Wayne O'Donoghue has been released from prison after serving three years of a four-year sentence for the manslaughter of his 11-year-old neighbour, Robert Holohan.

The 23-year-old former engineering student from Midleton was released a year early, after qualifying for 25% remission from his sentence.

His immediate plans are not clear and may not have been decided yet.

But it is thought possible he may move home to live with his parents in east Cork not far from Mark and Majella Holohan and their two other children.

11-year-old Robert Holohan disappeared from his home in Ballyedmond near Midleton in Co Cork on 4 January 2005.

His body was discovered eight days later wrapped in black refuse sacks and dumped in a ditch at Inch Strand, about 20km from his home.

Four days later, on 16 January 2005, Wayne O'Donoghue confessed to killing Robert Holohan.

He was subsequently charged with Robert Holohan's murder but was acquitted by a jury following a ten-day trial.

He had, however, admitted manslaughter and, for that, he was sentenced to four years in jail by Mr Justice Paul Carney.

O'Donoghue apology

Speaking outside the prison, Wayne O'Donoghue said 'I wish to express my profound apologies and deep regret to Mark and Majella Holohan and to their family for causing to them the loss of their beloved Robert.

'I fully accept responsibility not only for that loss but also for the additional grief and distress which I have caused to them owing to my actions following Robert's death.

'I realise and accept that nothing which I may do or say will ever ease their suffering. I feel and carry the burden of guilt for my actions each day.

'I also profoundly regret the hurt and distress which I have caused to the wider community.

'To all whom I have caused such grief and distress I can only repeat my sorrow and ask for forgiveness.

'To my own family, relations and friends I also wish to say to repeat my expression of sorrow for the pain and suffering which I have caused you. I deeply appreciate the support you have given me over the past three years and I will always be grateful for this.

'I also wish to express my gratitude to all of those people in the wider community who have made contact with me directly and indirectly since my imprisonment. I am eternally grateful to you for your kindness, support and understanding.

'I wish to express my thanks and appreciation to the governor and staff of the Midlands Prison for the very fair and reasonable manner in which I have been treated during the term of my imprisonment.

'I fully accept personal responsibility for all of my actions in this matter.

'I have always stated that I would as a consequence accept the penalty imposed by the court for my wrong-doing.

'I have served a penalty which has been imposed upon me by the courts to the best of my ability.

'I intend this to be my only statement in relation to this matter and I would hope for your understanding in that regard.'

The principal of the secondary school that Wayne O'Donoghue attended described his statement as a brave thing to do.