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Man accused of stealing Noah Donohoe's laptop will be 'staring at a prison cell' if he keeps breaching his curfew, judge warns

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Noah Donohoe, 14, was found dead in a storm drain near the M2 motorway in June, six days after he went missing in north Belfast (Family/PA)

Noah Donohoe, 14, was found dead in a storm drain near the M2 motorway in June, six days after he went missing in north Belfast (Family/PA)

Noah Donohoe, 14, was found dead in a storm drain near the M2 motorway in June, six days after he went missing in north Belfast (Family/PA)

A man accused of stealing tragic schoolboy Noah Donohoe's laptop will be "staring at a prison cell" if he keeps breaching his curfew, a judge warned.

Daryl Paul, 33, was told of the consequences of any future infringements as he was re-admitted to bail on a charge of theft.

Paul is not suspected of having anything to do with Noah's disappearance in Belfast.

But he allegedly found his rucksack and attempted to trade-in the laptop it contained while searches for the 14-year-old were ongoing.

Noah went missing during a cycle trip from his home in the south of the city on June 21 this year.

His body was found in a north Belfast storm drain six days later following a massive operation to locate him.

A post-mortem examination established that the St Malachy's College pupil died as a result of drowning.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard Paul, of Cliftonville Avenue in the city, is believed to have discovered the rucksack and contents by the side of a road on the day Noah vanished.

Two days later he allegedly tried to sell the laptop at a Cash Converters store.

Police were alerted by the manager, identified Paul on CCTV footage and forced entry to his home.

"He wasn't there, however items belonging to the missing person were there and that's when we made the connection," a detective said.

"Further CCTV inquiries showed where the items had been dropped and then, later on, Mr Paul collected them."

It was stressed that he is not thought to have come into contact with Noah at any time.

District Judge Mark Hamill was told the defendant currently has up to five separate cases going through the courts.

He had been on bail, but was returned to custody for allegedly returning home after his curfew at the weekend.

Opposing his re-release, the detective added: "There's also an objection on the grounds of his own safety.

"The death of Noah Donohoe was an extremely high profile case."

Defence solicitor Una Conway emphasised that police spoke to her client as a witness back in June.

It took another five months before a decision was taken to arrest him, she told the hearing on Monday.

Ms Conway argued that Paul spent several weeks in custody on a charge of "theft by finding".

Accepting there have been issues with a curfew imposed on him, the lawyer said the latest alleged breach involved returning home minutes late from a visit to his mother.

"He had £15 to pay a taxi, the fare got to £15 at Shaftesbury Square and he had to walk the rest of the way home," she submitted.

"There's no further offences before the court and he has adhered to all other conditions."

Releasing Paul again on the same terms, Mr Hamill warned: "It may well be a minor infraction in terms of the curfew, but it will have a cumulative effect.

"If he keeps on doing it (his) bail will end, and he will be staring at a prison cell and he will have no-one but himself to blame."

The judge added: "I'm not losing sight of the fact this is theft by finding, with a substantial amount of time already under his belt for that particular offence."

Paul is due to appear back in court on January 15.

Belfast Telegraph


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