Fiona Donohoe has filed a third complaint with the Police Ombudsman, accusing the PSNI of leaking sensitive material on her sons’s disappearance and death to social media.
Noah Donohoe, a 14-year-old Catholic schoolboy, disappeared in 2020 while cycling through a loyalist area of north Belfast where other Catholic children had been threatened and attacked. His naked body was discovered in a storm drain in the same area six days later.
A complaint was filed last week ahead of a hearing on whether a Public interest immunity (PII) certificate (gag order) should be granted to the police to prevent further information about the case from becoming known.
The hearing was told of the contradiction between the force’s attempts to keep certain details secret while “PSNI sources” were spinning the facts of Noah’s death in the mainstream media.
Justice Michael Humphreys expressed his “very grave concern” over the possibility.
The PSNI has described concerns of foul play as conspiracy theories, and has suggested that Noah’s death was a result of a sudden change of personality suffered in a fall from his bike.
The PSNI has been arguing that disclosing certain information about the case would damage British security interests.
A petition opposing the PII bid has gained more than 300,000 signatures, while supporters of the Donohoe family staged a protest in Belfast city centre last month.
Former British Direct Ruler Shailesh Vara, who has since been removed from his post, signed the document in July. A further behind-closed-doors PII hearing was held in Belfast last week.
Ms Donohoe has filed two previous complaints with the Police Ombudsman, citing other failures in the investigation into Noah’s disappearance and death.
Brenda Campbell QC, representing the Donohoe family, accepted that gag orders are not uncommon for conflict-related killings, but she questioned why issues of “national security” are at play in a case involving a child’s death.
“We must bear in mind that at the heart of this inquest is the death of a 14-year-old child,” she said.
“A bright and talented and popular boy who had a zest for life. Who was loved and was loving and impressed everyone who knew him and that child left home on a bright Sunday afternoon in June 2020 and whose naked body was found six days later face down in a storm drain.”
She added: “At the heart of this inquest is a grieving mother and a grieving family who need to understand how and why Noah died.
“However painful answers that are forthcoming might be, they are not as painful as the unknown as to how and why he died.”