The tragic and confusing circumstances surrounding Noah’s untimely passing continue to cause anxiety and distress for both his family and the community of North Belfast, where he died, and the community of South Belfast, where he lived.
The police handling of this tragedy has left many unanswered questions, leading to speculation and rumour surrounding the events prior to Noah’s death.
The sad reality for Nationalists living in North Belfast, the epicentre of serious, and to this day ongoing sectarian violence, led many initially to believe there may have been a sectarian element involved in Noah’s death.
Just a few weeks prior to Noah’s disappearance, a young Catholic Nationalist from Ligoniel was pushed off his bike just a few streets away. He was then assaulted, had his mobile phone and his expensive bicycle stolen.
The young man was pushed from his bike by an adult and set upon by a gang of teenagers on bicycles. He later required hospital treatment and stitches for his wounds. No charges have arisen and no one has been before the courts.
Initially, police reported that an anonymous caller claimed to have seen Noah fall from his bike and sustain a head injury. This could have resulted in the events which later unfolded.
Noah was last seen alive, naked, in Northwood Road North, Belfast on Sunday, June 21 at 6.00 pm. CCTV footage placed him near to the spot where he was later found.
The police line of enquiry supposed Noah suffered a head injury, possibly overheated, took off his clothes and cycled naked for a short period of time before discarding his bicycle, some of his clothes and disappearing into a small local parkland.
After a huge search, Noah was finally returned to his loving family, following the discovery of his body in a storm drain, in the park, where it was assumed he had disappeared.
The post mortem identifies Noah’s cause of death as ‘Drowning’. No apparent head wound was discovered. Noah had been wearing a helmet while cycling.
The police have left the Donohoe family in limbo.
A conclusion of ‘death by drowning’ does not answer the questions as to why Noah’s bicycle and some of his clothing were discovered in one area, days later his backpack and laptop in another area. Nor does it explain why he did not seek help and how he ended up in a storm drain.
His phone was found very early on in the investigation and has been at the centre of rumours that he may have contacted the police prior to his disappearance.
All the speculation, rumours and innuendos do nothing to help the Donohoe family come to terms with the reality of what has happened.
Yet it is the police failure to reassure the family and the community through open and transparent communication of what actually transpired, that is behind the ongoing avoidable distress and worry.
If Noah did not sustain a severe head injury, then everything which the police said transpired as a result of this is called into question.
Several parts of his clothing are as yet to be recovered.
A re-enactment of his disappearance has not yet been done. The police have not reissued any appeals for new information.
A leaflet drop and door-to-door investigative enquiries which the police told the family had been carried out, don’t appear to be backed up by evidence.
The media throughout this terrible ordeal have simply reported the facts as given by the police. They have not as yet challenged the veracity of anything the police have said or critiqued the police response to this tragic series of events.
No one wishes to prolong the suffering of the family, but until many of these questions are answered to the satisfaction of the family and the community, closure will not be forthcoming for anyone.
The family of Noah Donohoe need justice, the family need answers, the family need the truth.
My hope is that the mainstream media will get behind the family and demand Justice For Noah.
⏭ Fra Hughes blogs @ The North Belfast Journal: A View From Napoleon's Nose.