22 April 2005

Irish Independent

Charge against suspected killer of boy raised to murder by DPP

Friday April 22nd 2005

AN engineering student was yesterday charged with the murder of 11-year-old schoolboy Robert Holohan after the Director of Public Prosecutions ruled that an earlier manslaughter charge be dropped.

The court yesterday heard that Wayne O'Donoghue (20) of Ballyedmond, Midleton, Co Cork, replied "no thanks" when he was cautioned and charged with the new offence .

The young victim, a student at Midleton CBS, disappeared after going for a cycle on January 4 last on his new BMX bike.

After a massive manhunt, his body was found on January 12 in a ditch near Inch Strand, some 12 miles away.

A post-mortem indicated that Robert had been asphyxiated.

Yesterday, Superintendent Liam Hayes explained to Judge Michael Pattwell at Midleton District Court that the DPP has directed that a murder charge be brought against O'Donoghue and that no evidence should be offered on the earlier manslaughter charge first brought on January 17.

Sergeant Joe O'Connor then told the court that he formally arrested, cautioned and then charged O'Donoghue at Midleton Garda station at 9.55am yesterday morning.

During yesterday's 10-minute hearing the accused sat with his head bowed, staring at the floor, standing only briefly to acknowledge a query from Judge Pattwell on the issue of free legal aid.

Defence lawyer Frank Buttimer said he had no submissions to make at this stage on the book of evidence which was formally served on his client.

Judge Pattwell asked whether there was any question about the accused's ability to enter a plea.

Mr Buttimer said that there was no question on that issue.

Because of hearings on the earlier manslaughter charge, the judge warned the media that they were to restrict themselves to what they were legally entitled to report about the present case.

Yesterday's hearing was once again observed by Robert's parents, Mark and Majella.

Wayne O'Donoghue's father, Ray, sat silently at the back of the court.

O'Donoghue appeared in court for the eighth time yesterday.

An earlier hearing was told that there were 1,351 statements to be processed and over 1,022 witnesses to be dealt with as part of the state's book of evidence in the case. Gardai also had to deal with almost 1,900 lines of inquiry.

O'Donoghue is formally remanded for trial to the Central Criminal Court.

He has been been in custody at the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise since January 18. He was transferred from Cork Prison to the Midlands Prison within 24 hours of his initial charge for safety reasons.

The defendant will appear before the Central Criminal Court next Thursday.

Ralph Riegel

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