27 January 2006

Robert killer will not try to answer sex claims

Irish Independent

Wayne O'Donoghue refuses to attend inquest into death of his victim

Ralph Riegel

WAYNE O'Donoghue will not try to clear his name at the inquest into the death of Robert Holohan.

Mr O'Donoghue's solicitor, Frank Buttimer, last night confirmed to the Irish Independent that his client will not appear at the inquest - even if he is summoned to do so by the coroner.

This is despite claims his client was "deeply upset" by allegations of a sex link made by Robert's mother Majella Holohan at his sentencing trial earlier this week.

Cork coroner Frank O'Connell could summon O'Donoghue to give evidence at the inquest as part of his inquiries to establish the facts surrounding the tragic events which led to Robert's death.

Mr Buttimer said his client was distressed by allegations made by Robert's mother that he had a sexual relationship with her son, and of subsequent media coverage of the sentencing hearing.

He also claimed Mr O'Donoghue had wanted to make a personal statement and a detailed apology at Tuesday's hearing, but was advised not to do so following claims made by Majella Holohan in her emotional victim impact statement.

But despite this, he will not now use the opportunity to do so at the inquest, which is not a trial, into Robert's death.

And even if he is summoned to appear before the inquest, Mr Buttimer said O'Donoghue would refuse to appear at the hearing to assist the coroner with his inquiries.

"There is no point - all of these matters have already been gone through in great detail during the trial," Mr Buttimer told the Irish Independent.

"They were dealt with fully and properly. I don't see the point in trawling through them all over again. It would be an extraordinary development if he (Wayne) was summoned - and he will refuse to attend if there is any risk whatsoever of his name being blackened in the manner it was earlier this week."

However, he vowed his client would "otherwise do everything humanly possible" to assist the inquest and the Holohan family.

Mr O'Connell last night declined to confirm if he would be calling the jailed student to give evidence at the hearing.

But it would be highly unlikely for a coroner not to summon a key witness to give evidence in similar cases.

"No decisions whatsoever about who will or who won't be called have been made," Mr O'Connell said.

"I will make those decisions in consultation with all the parties concerned and a date for the inquest will be fixed once the appeals period is over.

"I don't want to say anything further at this time." Mr O'Connor stressed that inquests are hearings to record facts such as the deceased's identity, their age, their cause of death and where they died.

He also pointed out that inquests, as governed by the Coroners Act, are not concerned with apportioning blame or further investigating criminal matters.

The dead schoolboy's heartbroken parents, Mark and Majella Holohan, are understood to be eager for O'Donoghue to give evidence at the hearing.

Mrs Holohan claimed semen was found on Robert's body during an explosive appearance at the Central Criminal Court on Tuesday as her son's killer was given a four-year jail sentence.

She also questioned the the relationship between O'Donoghue and her son as she challenged his version of how Robert died.

These claims did not arise during Mr O'Donoghue's trial - and Mr Buttimer has dismissed any link between the forensic material found and his client.

"He (Wayne) is not a sex offender," he said.

Wayne O'Donoghue was not called to give evidence at his 10-day trial last December - though three video-taped interviews he gave to Midleton gardai were shown to the jury.

And his legal team are adamant that O'Donoghue, who is likely to be released from prison in late 2007, will not offer testimony to the inquest.

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