Statement of Majella Holohan

EVEN though I wasn’t identified by name, Mr Justice Paul Carney clearly referred to me and my victim impact statement in Ennis in January 2006 at the sentence of Wayne O’Donoghue for the unlawful killing of my son, Robert.

I am offended and hurt at the remarks of Mr Justice Carney. He has a public forum available to him to make these comments but does not make himself available for debate or discussion.

I recently attended a Mass in Dublin for the victims of crime. He also attended. He inquired of one of the organisers if the person that he could see in front of him, was me and on being informed that it was, he left. If he had the concerns that he has now spoken of, I would have expected him to have the courtesy to say them to my face.

I am the mother of an innocent boy who was unlawfully killed by Wayne O’Donoghue. Mr Justice Carney is a trained lawyer. Mr Justice Carney has characterised my son’s death as horseplay. I am unaware of anybody who has ever been convicted of manslaughter for horseplay. I believe that this characterisation is incorrect.

At Robert’s inquest after Mr Justice Carney had made his characterisation of Robert’s injuries as having occurred during horseplay, I put that very query to State Pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy and she flatly contradicted Mr Justice Carney.

She told me in no uncertain terms that his injuries could not be equated with horseplay. It took a far greater degree of force than that for Robert to be killed.

I also believe that it is unfair to criticise me for giving details of how this crime impacted upon me. I am not a lawyer but I must say what I felt. It was not just a case of there being horseplay and no other surrounding features. There was the issue of the semen, Robert’s presence in Wayne’s bedroom at an early hour of the morning and Wayne’s actions after the crime was committed and so on.

These were additional features in the case which remained unexplained. I understand that certain matters cannot be put before the jury for legal reasons but what I was saying was not being put before the jury, but rather it was being put before Mr Justice Carney to give him an idea as to how the crime had impacted upon me.

I understand that as a legally trained person, he can, and should, distinguish between facts he has to take into account and those which he cannot.

I do not believe it is fair to put a victim in the same position. I do not believe it is appropriate to censor victims as to what they can say so that it can be palatable for the judge or the offender. A victim should be entitled to say how the crime has impacted upon them.

Whether or not the judge takes into account what I, or any other victim says, as to how a crime has impacted on me or other victims, is a matter for the judge to decide.

It is not fair to criticise me for saying how this crime impacted on me. It is unreal to think that I could or should clinically segregate and remove from my mind all of these features. The features that I alluded to, semen and the like during the course of my victim impact statement were matters that any responsible mother would allude to. Was I to go in to court and give a statement which made no reference to these matters although they were of considerable concern to me? I think I would not have done justice to my much loved son, Robert, if I hadn’t done so. Whether Mr Justice Carney or Wayne O’Donoghue likes it or not, these were features in the case.

Mr Justice Carney said the media made me into an iconic figure.

At no time did I court the media, give an interview and we have refused numerous requests to discuss the case on TV chat shows and other media outlets.

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