Detective believed accused tried to burn body

A DETECTIVE investigating the killing of Robert Holohan believes that Wayne O’Donoghue tried to set fire to the body of the schoolboy sometime after he dumped the remains.

“I think you went out there with the petrol to set fire to the body,” Detective Garda Sean O’Brien of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation said to the accused during a videotaped interview.

The accused replied that the detective was entitled to his opinion but that he did not.

O’Donoghue has always claimed that he tried to set fire to plastic at the scene but not to the body which had been dumped in rough ground near Inch strand.

He said his intention was to burn the plastic and remove the body to the strand where it could be found. It was put to him that he would be putting it on the beach so that it would be washed out to sea but he denied that.

Murder accused Wayne O’Donoghue was also heard to deny he held a hand over Robert Holohan’s mouth to stop him screaming.

O’Donoghue, aged 21, of Ballyedmond, Midleton, who admits manslaughter but denies murder, was seen on video at the Central Criminal Court yesterday being interviewed by Detectives at Midleton Garda Station on January 17.

Detective Garda Sean O’Brien asked O’Donoghue: “Did you at any stage put your hand on Robert’s mouth to stop him screaming?”

O’Donoghue replied: “Never at any stage did I do that.”

“Are you sure about that?” he was asked, and he replied “110%.”

O’Donoghue repeatedly stated in the interview that he was in a panic and never intended to kill or harm Robert. He did not want people to get that view.

Detective Garda O’Brien said: “Don’t worry what view we take. We are here to find out the truth from start to finish.”

He was questioned about removing Robert’s BMX bike from outside his house and throwing it in a ditch some distance away.

Asked about this, he said Robert’s bike was outside the O’Donoghue house hundreds of times before so it would not have been unusual if he had simply left it there.

Detective Garda O’Brien said: “The difference this time is that the bike is there but Robert ain’t coming back.”

The detective said that half the gardaí in the country had given a week and a day to looking for Robert because they thought he had been abducted by someone. He said this in the context of the bike being found in the ditch.

Detective Sgt Brian Goulding said: “You were smart enough to take the bike.”

O’Donoghue said he wouldn’t call it smart and repeated that he was panicking. A volunteer with the Irish Rescue Dogs Service, Áine Dorgan, testified that she met Wayne O’Donoghue during the search for Robert Holohan. She said O’Donoghue asked her a number of questions about tracking dogs picking up a scent. For instance, what would happen if Robert were in a river and what would happen if he were in a car and other questions along those lines.

He said O’Donoghue came up with a theory that Robert’s new bike might have been stolen. He suggested that if this happened Robert would have searched the surrounding area and might have fallen into a river.

Professor Michael Fitzgerald, an expert on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD), testified that the late Robert Holohan had both conditions. He said Robert had moderately severe ADHD and was on medication. He said the principal of Robert’s school was so concerned about it that he telephoned the professor at home on one occasion.

The decision to take the boy off medication at Christmas time was a quite normal approach, he said. But he said the person with ADHD would revert to their usual symptoms of the condition within hours of stopping the medication.

He said those with the condition were more likely to be victims for several reasons, namely poor behavioural control, low frustration tolerance, impulsivity and inability to delay gratification.

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