04 February 2006

Holohan parents want killer summoned to the inquest

Irish Independent

Ralph Riegel

THE parents of slain schoolboy Robert Holohan have written to the Cork county coroner asking that his killer be summoned to appear at the inquest into his death.

The Holohans want Wayne O'Donoghue to answer the questions that have tortured them since his trial.

Majella Holohan has confirmed she wants to see O'Donoghue personally respond to a number of issues she raised at his sentencing hearing, and to be cross-examined by their solicitor. "We have questions that we want answered," she said.

O'Donoghue received a four-year prison sentence for the manslaughter of Robert on January 4 2005 after being acquitted of the boy's murder.

Robert died from asphyxia due to neck compression after being placed in a head-lock and caught by the throat by O'Donoghue.

The Holohan family last week wrote to the DPP pleading that what they claimed to be the undue leniency of the sentence be appealed.

Cork county coroner Frank O'Connell has said that no details of the inquest, either its date or the potential witnesses to be summoned, will be discussed until after the 28-day statutory appeals period expires.

That is on February 21, and, if there is no appeal against his sentence, Mr O'Connell will then liaise with the various interested parties about the date and running order.

O'Donoghue's solicitor, Frank Buttimer, last night said he had no further comment to make.

Mr Buttimer has already insisted that his client will do "everything humanly possible" to assist the inquest and the Holohan family.

However, he said that his client will refuse to attend the inquest if there is any question of his name being further blackened or if he is to be subjected to any attempted re-run of his trial.

Mr Buttimer stressed that this is not the function of such inquests, whose purpose is to record matters of fact such as the identity of the deceased, the place and time of death as well as the actual cause of death.

This is to allow the release of a death certificate to the family.

Mr Buttimer said he would find it "extraordinary" if his client was summoned to appear to the inquest in light of the detailed information already given to the original 10-day Central Criminal Court trial.

It remains unclear whether the State Pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy, whose trial testimony was crucial, will be asked to offer evidence at the inquest.

'Nightmare'

Yesterday, Majella Holohan said the family's ordeal over the past two months has been "a living nightmare".

"You just have to keep it together for the kids (Emma and Harry).

"They have good days and bad days like myself. But you have to just keep going. There's nothing else you can do."

With her husband, Mark, she is trying to offer their two children as normal a life as possible in the circumstances. To that end, they are now in the process of selling their home and moving to another part of Midleton.

"There are just too many memories and reminders here in Ballyedmond."

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