Just 5 years ago in January 2005, the tsunami was world news. But just a few days later in Midleton, Co. Cork, the story of a missing local child pushed the tsunami off the front page. The tragedy about to be revealed over the course of the next fortnight would leave the local community coming to terms with a terrible loss.
The search for young Robert Holohan would last 8 days. It drew volunteers from far and wide. The press were in following every development. A missing child in a quiet country locality this both shook and appalled the public. Robert's parents, Majella and Mark were heartbroken. Their terror and television appeals were heart wrenching. Finally, on January 12th, 8 days after Robert went missing, came the worst possible news. Robert's body was discovered far from his home in a remote gully near Whitegate. Even before the funeral, Gardaí let it be understood that a local must have been responsible, and that the dragnet was tightening on him.
Shockingly, next door neighbour, Wayne O'Donoghue, having given himself up to the Gardaí, was arrested and charged with Robert's manslaughter. The local community was riven with anguish, anger walked the streets.
Initially charged with manslaughter, the DPP unexpectedly raised the charge to that of murder. Wayne O'Donoghue was tried before the Central Criminal Court, sitting for the first time in Cork, before Mr. Justice Paul Carney.
Moving as the trial itself was, it was nothing compared to the reaction Majella Holohan's Victim Impact Statement was to generate.
Scannal recalls this tragic story, one which left two families shattered and a community at odds with itself.
Presenter/Reporter Pat Butler
Producer/Director Niamh Ní Churnáin