Man who harassed Noah Donohoe's mum sentenced to probation

Fiona Donohoe, mum of Noah Donohoe

A Belfast man who “hounded” the mother of tragic schoolboy Noah Donohoe in an online campaign involving sectarian and racist comments has been put on probation for two years.

William Logue, 44, was also given 75 hours community service, banned from using any social media for five years and ordered to pay £500 compensation to Fiona Donohoe.

The judge described him as a “vulture” who landed on the grief she has endured since the death of her son.

Logue, of Northwood Parade, admitted pursuing a course of conduct which amounted to harassment of Ms Donohoe on Twitter.

Fourteen-year-old Noah was found dead in a north Belfast storm drain in June 2020, six days after he went missing on a bicycle trip across the city to meet with friends.

Ms Donohoe has been pressing for answers to the circumstances surrounding her son's mysterious disappearance ever since.

She is the administrator of a ‘Justice for Noah’ Twitter account which members of the public can post on.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard that she received a number of comments over a period of days in September 2021.

“One in particular said ‘The woman is f****** nuts and unhinged,” a Crown lawyer disclosed.

Another posting stated: “She has had her head filled with Provo b******t.”

The prosecutor added: “Continued sectarian, racist language was used.”

Police were alerted and arrested Logue in December 2021 after linking the comments to his Twitter account.

He initially denied harassing the bereaved mother, but pleaded guilty to the charge before proceedings reached trial.

Defence counsel Richard McConkey said his client had heightened mental health issues at the time of the online abuse.

But he acknowledged: “There is nothing I can say that excuses this behaviour because it is inexcusable.”

Giving little credit for pleading guilty at a late stage in the case, District Judge Chris Holmes indicated his initial reaction was to send Logue to jail for as long as possible. 

“What we have here is a situation of a person with frankly not the greatest mental health latching on to the tragedy and then hounding the family in a despicable manner on social media,” he said.

“This is unfortunately something which we see a lot of these days, vultures landing on people’s grief.”

However, the judge decided against a prison sentence which would have led to Logue being freed again in three months time without any supervision.  

He accepted the defendant’s mental health problems had contributed to his “appalling” behaviour in sending the “disgusting material”.

Imposing a combination order of 75 hours community service and two years probation, Mr Holmes directed full participation in any required programme of work or alcohol and drugs counselling. 

He also told Logue: “I’m making an order restraining you from using social media full stop for five years.

“On top of that, you will pay £500 compensation (to Ms Donohoe) within 26 weeks. If you don’t make any effort, I will send you to prison.”

With the victim present in court along with supporters, Mr Holmes explained to them that the sentence was aimed at ensuring Logue remains under supervision.

“I’m hoping that will prevent any form of behaviour like this happening to anybody else,” he added.

“I’m afraid it’s not what you wanted, but it’s the best that I can do.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.