Health and safety investigated after Belfast teenager found dead in drain

By Michael McHugh, PA
·3-min read

Police are investigating health and safety concerns after a Belfast teenager was found dead in a storm drain, a lawyer said.

A coroner is also probing lines of evidence after Noah Donohoe, 14, was recovered near the M2 motorway in June, six days after he went missing in the north of the city.

A coroner’s representative told the brief review hearing at Laganside courthouse that footage surrounding his disappearance had been reviewed and the police file was almost complete.

Laganside Court
A coroner’s representative told the brief review hearing at Laganside courthouse that footage surrounding Noah’s disappearance had been reviewed and a number of lines of evidence were being investigated (Liam McBurney/PA)

Barrister Declan Quinn said: “We have received a number of handwritten statements and materials.

“There are also a number of evidential lines of inquiry which appear to arise from the material we have received to date.”

He added: “The police are investigating health and safety issues that may arise in this inquest.

“The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have been actively engaging with the Department for Infrastructure.”

Police believe he entered the drain in the Northwood Road area of north Belfast, the force said earlier this year.

He had cycled to the area from his home in south Belfast and, shortly before he went missing, was seen with no clothes on.

Prior to that he was seen falling off his bike in Shore Road.

His disappearance prompted a major search operation, with hundreds of people from across Belfast involved.

Plans to hold the full inquest in January should be postponed and another review hearing scheduled instead, due to the nature of preliminary matters arising, family lawyer Niall Murphy said.

He said matters surrounding the disclosure of evidence and inquiries into health and safety and whether they may impact on progress should be better understood by then.

Noah’s mother Fiona was composing ‘the most traumatic and emotional statement she will ever attempt’ to aid the inquest (Liam McBurney/PA)
Noah’s mother Fiona was composing ‘the most traumatic and emotional statement she will ever attempt’ to aid the inquest (Liam McBurney/PA)

He added Noah’s mother Fiona was composing “the most traumatic and emotional statement she will ever attempt” to aid coroner Joe McCrisken’s fact-finding process.

Mr Murphy said his client wanted to create a foundation in memory of her son.

“Ms Donohoe is eternally grateful and touched by the support that she has received with regards to the awful circumstances she has had to confront.

“It is her intention to incept a Noah Donohoe foundation, the aims and objectives of which will be publicised at a later date.

“It is her intention to memorialise and to keep in public memory the legacy of her beautiful son Noah and it is considered that a foundation that will speak to his principles as a young person, that might inspire other young people of his age, that that foundation will be incepted, hopefully in the coming weeks.”

Police have compiled video footage which covers Noah’s journey from his home off the Ormeau Road to Northwood Road, a previous inquest hearing was told.

Noah’s body was found by specially trained police officers between two drain access points within a section of storm drain tunnel running under the Translink public transport cleaning facility access road.