Detective Sergeant Brian Goulding was asked the question at the inquest into the 11-year-old’s death, which was held at Midleton Courthouse.
It came nearly eight months after 21-year-old neighbour Wayne O’Donoghue was given a four-year sentence for the manslaughter of the boy.
Yesterday, the detective described to coroner Frank O’Connell how the search for Robert began after he failed to return to his home on January 4, 2005. He outlined details of the search and subsequent finding of a body at Ballintra East, Inch, Whitegate, Co Cork.
Detective Sergeant Goulding then referred to details provided by Wayne O’Donoghue after his arrest, of what had happened to Robert on the day in question.
After his statement, the detective took questions from Mark Holohan.
“As one of the gardaí investigating do you think there was a sexual motive to the killing of Robert Holohan?” he asked.
However, before the detective could reply, the coroner interrupted and said that was obviously something which is very important from the family’s point of view but added that he could not allow it to be addressed at the inquest.
The coroner said the inquest would have to confine itself to the cause of death. He added the family and other interested parties could make submissions to him at a later time.