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 gardaÃ 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.