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Robert Holohan - killed by Wayne O’Donoghue

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Robert Holohan - killed by Wayne O’Donoghue

Post  Guest on Fri 17 Jul - 10:59

The body of Robert Holohan, 11, was discovered near Inch Strand in east Cork on Wednesday, more than a week after he disappeared.

The Midleton boy had died from asphyxiation. Gardai said that there was no evidence of sexual assault.

Among the mourners at his funeral were political figures and volunteers who took part in the search for the child.

Robert's body was found in dense woodland about seven miles from where he went missing.


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Re: Robert Holohan - killed by Wayne O’Donoghue

Post  Guest on Fri 17 Jul - 11:01

Man charged with manslaughter of Robert Holohan
Student Wayne O’Donoghue has been charged with the manslaughter of Robert Holohan (pictured) at a special sitting of Midleton District Court this evening.

9:06:51 PM

Student Wayne O’Donoghue has been charged with the manslaughter of Robert Holohan at a sitting of the Midleton District Court this evening.

The Ballyedmond man, a second year engineering student at Cork Institute of Technology, has been remanded into custody to Cork prison. He will appear again before the court on Thursday, January 20.

Dressed in a suit and tie, O’Donoghue said nothing when he appeared before District Court Judge Michael Patwell. No application for bail was made.

Around 100 local people gathered outside the courthouse as he was marched in by gardaí. Some members of the crowd hurled abuse at him.

Gardaí had spent 12 hours quizzing O’Donoghue before charging him.

O’Donoghue was arrested late last night and taken to the town’s station flanked by three detectives after answering questions on a voluntary basis at his home.

It is understood he was arrested after his family contacted local detectives on Sunday afternoon.

Forensic teams spent the day searching O’Donoghue’s home and a vehicle he owned, only five miles from the Holohan house. It is understood he knew Robert.

Robert Holohan vanished from his Ballyedmond home on 4 January after setting off on his BMX bike, which he was given as a Christmas present. The bike was found abandoned later that afternoon half a mile the house.


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Re: Robert Holohan - killed by Wayne O’Donoghue

Post  Guest on Fri 17 Jul - 11:02

A tale of two tragedies
The manslaughter verdict in the Robert Holohan trial brought to an end a year of excruciating anxiety for the little boy's killer, Wayne O'Donoghue. His actions in the aftermath of Robert's death would make his situation critical in the eyes of the law. In a split second of blind rage, the boy he had treated like a little brother was dead, and his world collapsed around him. . .
Michael Clifford
AT 3.12pm on the day it happened, Wayne O'Donoghue sent a text to his girlfriend, Rebecca Dennehy. Both were at home, O'Donoghue in Ballyedmond Hill, Dennehy three miles away in Midleton. All was perfect in their world.

Her most pressing concern was to set up a study timetable for the run into her Leaving Cert. O'Donoghue was on the last day of his Christmas holidays from Cork Institute of Technology. His main task for the day was to prepare a speech he would deliver at CIT on his return.

Dennehy was in love, and the intensity of their relationship suggests the feeling was reciprocated.

Their next contact was by phone at 4.18pm. By then, O'Donoghue's life had changed irrevocably. As he spoke on the phone in a voice that betrayed nothing of what had transpired, 11-year-old Robert Holohan's body lay somewhere in the vicinity of the O'Donoghue home.

Wayne had killed Robert, in what, by Wayne's account, was a freak accident. He dragged the body from outside on the gravel driveway into the house. On the way one of Robert's runners fell off. Wayne laid him on a mat in the bathroom and splashed water on his face. There was no response. He wiped the face dry with tissues and threw the tissues into the toilet.

He went into the kitchen and got a knife. He stood in front of a mirror with the knife against his throat, an impulse compelling him to kill himself.

He didn't act on it. Instead, at some stage in the hour that followed, he put Robert's body in the boot of his Fiat Punto, and the boy's BMX bike in the back seat. Somewhere along the way of the above events, he phoned Rebecca. They arranged to meet later in the day.

Nobody knows where Robert Holohan was for the last hour of his life. By O'Donoghue's account, Robert called soon after 2.30pm, and again around an hour later, minutes before the killing.

There was a sighting of Rob around 2.30pm, soon after he left home. He spoke briefly with Rose Harte, a neighbour and mother of his best friend, 13-year-old Heather. After that encounter, nothing. The only other person to see Rob alive was Wayne O'Donoghue.

The hour after Robert's killing was to determine O'Donoghue's fate. For that length of time, the 20-yearold student was at the family home with the body of his young friend. If a family member had shown up, a tragedy might have been confined to an accidental killing. As it was, panic, by his own account, pointed O'Donoghue towards concealment. He eventually left the house, the body in the boot, sometime around 4.30pm.

By 6pm he was back in Dennehy's house sitting down to watch an episode of The Simpsons. Robert Holohan's body was lying in a ditch at Inch, eight miles away. The horror that must have been consuming a heretofore regular college kid was, like the boy's body, concealed from the world, and would remain so for eight days until a terrible discovery was made.

Over the 10-day trial in the Central Criminal Court, there was no major shock, no big revelation, no moment when a central truth was revealed.

The jury which heard extensive evidence determined that Wayne O'Donoghue did not intend to seriously harm or kill Robert Holohan when he grabbed him around the neck.

But it was a trial involving events like few others seen before the courts. Most killings involve passion or anger heightened into violence. Usually, there is an exacerbating agent, like drink or drugs. And until recent years, the protagonists were mostly from the lower reaches of society.

Here, none of those factors were present. The perpetrator was on the cusp of adulthood with everything going for him. The victim was a child, boisterous and fun loving, who also had everything to live for.

There were no signs of a violent struggle. There was no evidence on the body of sexual abuse. Instead, there was just medical evidence that the cause of death as described by O'Donoghue was plausible. Robert died from asphyxia, due to neck compression. Two pathologists more or less agreed that the length of time required to set in train the internal workings that led to death could be accounted for by a matter of seconds.

The relationship between the two males separated by nine years was explored in the trial. When he was interviewed by the gardai, it was suggested to O'Donoghue that it was an odd set-up. He disagreed, pointing out that growing up in the country that wasn't unusual. O'Donoghue's counsel described the relationship as "beautiful".

To many friends and neighbours, they were like brothers.

Rose Harte told the guards that Rob and her daughter were good friends with Wayne, despite the age difference. She said he was the most tolerant of the three O'Donoghue brothers.

Wayne built a treehouse for the boy on the Holohan's property. They played Playstation together. When Wayne got a car, he often drove Rob and Heather to Fat Al's poolhall in Midleton, or to the local McDonalds.

Rebecca Dennehy said her boyfriend treated Robert like a younger brother. He referred to the boy as "Rob the man". Four days before the killing, she saw Wayne and his brother Timmy accompany Robert to mass in Midleton. She never heard him utter an angry or negative comment about the little lad, noting that all he said was that Robert was hyperactive.

The court heard that Robert suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. His mother Majella told the court it was diagnosed as a mild strain.

One piece of evidence highlighted the close nature of the relationship. Last Christmas, Robert saved up for a mobile phone. On 28 December he and Heather went into Midleton and bought the phone in Xtravision. That evening, Robert slept over at Hartes'.

When the phone was retrieved on Robert's body, a stored photograph was identified as an image from a poster on Wayne's bedroom wall. The time of the photograph was recorded as 7.36am on 28 December, although that was a chronological impossibility.

When detectives questioned Wayne on the image, he replied that it had been taken in his bedroom, and that there was another person present at the time.

One week later, Robert was dead. For nearly eight days his body lay in a ditch near Inch strand. The hiatus between his disappearance and the discovery of the body saw a local tragedy elevated into a national concern. The rumour mill that was activated spoke mainly of modern societal concerns for children.

At times, the fare wasn't far short of hysterical.

All manner of phenomena were attributed to the east Cork area around Midleton.

One persistent theory was that a number of paedophiles fleeing England had settled in the area, having disembarked from the ferry at Cork.

Every British-registered car was noted with suspicion.

The area had been blighted by a higher than average number of suicides. Suddenly, people were adding two and two and getting five. There had been convictions in the area for child pornography . . . as there was in most urban communities . . . and that too was thrown into the mix.

Rumour swirled around as to the identity of the perpetrator. The recurring theme was that a series of child killings in England was now being visited on the Cork area.

The day before Robert's body was found, a man was pulled from a river in the town.

Again, people reached for answers.

It was all baseless. When an initial examination of the body revealed that the boy had not been abused, there was a collective sigh of relief, as much for the society as for the bereaved family.

But rumours of a more benign strain persisted locally through the year until the trial. Again, there was nothing to them. It was as if people had to find some answers for a tragedy and aftermath that appeared inexplicable. There had to be some reason why the lives of two families straight out of middle Ireland had been thrust into the darkest of nightmares. The truth, as elicited by the court, was that they had all been the victims of a simple, but terrible, twist of fate.

When the verdict of not guilty of murder was returned last Wednesday, Wayne O'Donoghue's mother Therese broke down. Her husband Ray removed his glasses and cried too. Wayne looked to the ceiling of the courthouse in a gesture of thanks.

Mark and Majella Holohan, who sat behind the prosecution team for the trial, didn't show any emotion.

Both families have suffered, but afterwards O'Donoghue's solicitor said that the difficulties of his client's family paled compared to that of the Holohans.

On 4 January, Robert Holohan's life will be remembered in a memorial service.

On 24 January, Wayne O'Donoghue will be sentenced for the manslaughter of the boy he treated like a little brother.
December 18, 2005


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Re: Robert Holohan - killed by Wayne O’Donoghue

Post  Guest on Fri 17 Jul - 11:14

On a personal note. I dont think Wayne O Donoghue intentionally killed Robert. Yes he concealed his body but I think it was in sheer panic as he didnt know what else to do. Wayne was given a 4 year sentence for manslaughter and paid his debt to society. He is now out of prison and hasnt been seen around Middleton at all since his release. His family run the local petrol station in my local town and a nicer family you would not meet.

The only thing I do blame him for is not telling the police sooner where Robert's body was. He did go out and help to search for Robert which I think is a horrible thing to do, Was it in panic or was he hoping Robert's body would never be found. The only one that knows that is Wayne O Donoghue and he is the one that will have to live with this for the rest of his life.


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Re: Robert Holohan - killed by Wayne O’Donoghue

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