I just wish I had a blanket to wrap around him’

Following the trial of Wayne O’Donoghue, the papers today are full of coverage of the verdict. Cleared of murder, guilty of manslaughter. And from what I’ve read and heard that seems fair. If anything can be said to be fair about the death of 11 year old Robert Holohan.

There are never any winners in a murder case, but this court case was truly tragic. Wayne, a 21 year old student, was a friend of Robert’s. He has been described as almost one of the family.

All you can feel is sorrow for both families. The Holohan’s have lost their son. The O’Donoghue’s must live knowing that their son killed someone.

For the non-Irish readers, you probably won’t know anything about this case. One year ago Robert went missing. For days people searched, but in the end his body was found in a glen, near Inch, 12 miles from his home. Three days later was the funeral.

The whole country had learned through the heartfelt appeals by Robert’s parents, Mark and Majella, that their son feared the dark and, aware of that, a garda charged with preserving the scene asked Fr O’Donovan to pass on a message to the family if he thought it appropriate.

Fr O’Donovan recalled: “He said, ‘I was one of two gardaí who kept watch with Robert last night . . . I would like the parents to know that Robert wasn’t alone last night – I spoke to him all the time’; and then he concluded, ‘I just wish I had a blanket to wrap around him’.”

A day later Wayne made a statement to gardai telling how he had killed the boy.

Wayne O’Donoghue described to the two detectives how a row developed between him and Robert after he had refused to drive the youngster to McDonald’s for a chocolate milkshake. He said Robert threw pebbles at his car.

Wayne O’Donoghue was holding his friend with his left hand by the throat and was telling him to stop throwing stones. He could not say how tight or for how long he held him, but when he released his grip, Robert fell to the ground.

It is just so sad. To hear how friendly they were, and what a pointless death it was.

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10 Responses

  1. NineMoons says:

    Excellent post Fence. Really captured how I feel too. A horrible mistake and two lives destroyed.
    I remember what that Garda said from the start of the year. It brought a lump to my throat reading it again. The goodness and kindness

  2. NineMoons says:

    of some people, to be so sensitive to his parents' pain.

  3. Patry says:

    You're right. Not being in Ireland, I'd never heard about this–but I admire your merciful take on this. And the court's as well.

  4. sally says:

    YIKES! Pointless indeed!!

  5. Fence says:

    Patry the thing is that the two fellas were quite god friends. Which may seem weird given that one was 20 and the other 11, but I think you'll often find people of different ages hanging out together in the countryside when there aren't a lot of other children of the same age around.

    And if what Wayne O'Donoghue said was true, which seems to be the case, then it really was nothing but a huge accident. Obviously that doesn't excuse it, but at the same time it doesn't justify ruining his life any more than it already has been.

  6. auds says:

    Great post fence. It's all just so sad.
    It's hard to say what any of us would do in a similar situation but hiding Robert's body and then witnessing the pain and anguish of his parents for the few days after….I don't know. It's a tough one to think about.

  7. Fence says:

    Auds, in a way that is almost the worst part. That he joined in the search and tried to comfort Robert's parents. But I suppose your first instinct must be to cover it up, and then once you've started you just dig yourself further and further away from the truth.

  8. NineMoons says:

    All I can think is that he must have been out of his mind with the stress and fear and guilt of what he had done. It must have seemed like a nightmare.

  9. Zayin says:

    that is very tragic. it's interesting to see how the irish court dealt with that; I can definitely see a different outcome had that been a u.s. trial.

  10. NineMoons says:

    Well, I think it helped that the state pathologist agreed with his version of events.