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Stop the 'baseless' theories over teen's death, says coroner

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Noah Donohoe. Photo: PSNI/PA Wire

Noah Donohoe. Photo: PSNI/PA Wire

Noah Donohoe. Photo: PSNI/PA Wire

A coroner investigating the death of schoolboy Noah Donohoe has demanded an end to "baseless, inaccurate and potentially criminal" speculation around his death.

Joe McCrisken said social media commentary around the tragedy should cease, adding that it was "distressing" the family. He was speaking during a preliminary hearing held in Laganside Court, Belfast.

Noah (14) disappeared in north Belfast on June 21 shortly after he was seen cycling near Shore Road.

His disappearance sparked a search in the area and further afield by local people and emergency services before his body was found in a 1km-long storm drain off Shore Road on June 27.

It was one of the most intensive and high-profile missing person cases Northern Ireland has witnessed in decades.

Both sides of the community came together to locate the missing St Malachy's College Year 10 pupil.

Mourners at his requiem Mass at St Patrick's Church heard how the talented cellist and basketball player was a "beautiful soul with a beautiful mind who poured a lifetime of love into 14 short years".

Mr McCrisken, who set a date for Noah's inquest to be held on January 18 next year, acknowledged the grief of Noah's loved ones, particularly for his mother, Fiona, saying: "Noah was described to me as a boy who was well liked, was fiercely intelligent and hugely talented. His family... have clearly felt his loss very deeply."

Fiona, supported by her sister Niamh - Noah's aunt - was present at the proceedings.

Last week, a family spokeswoman said the preliminary findings of a post-mortem indicated the schoolboy had drowned and had not suffered a head injury. One of the police's early theories was that Noah sustained a head injury in a fall from his bike, causing him to become disorientated and enter the drain.

Mr McCrisken stressed that results from some tests were still outstanding. As such, he stressed the full post-mortem findings had yet to be determined.

"It is important for me to point out at this juncture that despite media reporting on this issue, these are preliminary findings only, and a full post-mortem report is awaited," he said.

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He called for an end to online speculation which began following the teenager's disappearance and had continued ever since.

"Since Noah's disappearance, and following the discovery of his body, there has been a high volume of speculation and comment published on social media and other forms of media," he said. 

"Most of this content has been inaccurate and baseless. Some has been distressing to Noah's family and some may have been criminal.

"While I understand the concern of the community in the light of Noah's disappearance and death, and the desire for further information, I am asking that speculation cease from today."

He continued: "I am asking the community and media to respect my wishes as the coroner responsible for investigating Noah's death, and respect the wishes of Noah's family."

A further preliminary hearing has been scheduled for September 30.


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