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Noah Donohoe: Recovered laptop is 'significant' to search for Belfast schoolboy, say police

Police hope discovery of device could help in bid to locate teenager

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Search and rescue teams hunting for Noah Donohoe near York Road in Belfast

Search and rescue teams hunting for Noah Donohoe near York Road in Belfast

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Superintendent Muir Clark

Superintendent Muir Clark

Stephen Hamilton

Noah’s mother Fiona has thanked the community for their help

Noah’s mother Fiona has thanked the community for their help

PA

Search and rescue teams hunting for Noah Donohoe near York Road in Belfast

Police are hoping that the recovery of Noah Donohoe's laptop will provide a crucial breakthrough in the search for the missing schoolboy.

PSNI Superintendent Muir Clark on Friday said that although it was still unclear as to why the 14-year-old was in the north Belfast area last Sunday, detectives believe a forensic examination of the electronic device may yield some answers.

Supt Clark said the discovery, which came on the fifth full day of searching, was made in the north Belfast area following a call from a member of the public.

The detective described locating the khaki backpack which contained the Lenovo laptop as "significant", and said the items were being examined by specialists for any information that may help locate the south Belfast teenager.

"It was a significant part of evidence that we were looking for because it contained the laptop," Supt Clark said.

"Along with the other electronic devices we have, that will form a major line of inquiry now as to where Noah possibly is or, if he was going to see someone, who that was.

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Superintendent Muir Clark

Superintendent Muir Clark

Stephen Hamilton

Superintendent Muir Clark

"These items are now being examined by specialist officers, for any information which may help locate Noah."

He added that enquiries were ongoing as to how the bag and laptop came to be where they were, but did not believe that where the items were located is directly connected to where he was last seen.

The policeman also said a 26-year-old man has been arrested following a social media post about the St Malachy's College Year 10 pupil.

The man was detained on suspicion of improper use of a public electronic communications network.

"Last night we became aware of social media posts. We are aware of the content of these social media posts and are content there is no truth behind their content," Supt Clark said.

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Noah’s mother Fiona has thanked the community for their help

Noah’s mother Fiona has thanked the community for their help

PA

Noah’s mother Fiona has thanked the community for their help

"A 26-year-old male was arrested in the early hours of this morning on suspicion of improper use of public electronic communications network and he is currently helping with enquiries."

Detectives remain optimistic that Noah is still alive but believe he may have sustained a head injury from falling from his bike that has led him to find shelter in the local area.

"We believe Noah has fallen off his bicycle and suffered some form of trauma and is either disorientated or incapacitated," Supt Clark said.

"One main area of search continues to be in the area of Shore Road bounded by Premier Drive and Skegoneill Avenue."

He added that there was "significant work ongoing" on Friday morning "clearing vegetation in that area so that we can thoroughly check it again".

And he asked householders to "please again check your outbuilding, shrubbery, any area on your garden or premises that Noah might possibly be in".

He added: "That is the key bit of our investigation at the moment, but we don't rule anything out."

Noah's bicycle, helmet, training shoes, mobile phone and other items of clothing have already been recovered but, despite an intense search operation, nothing has emerged to indicate his whereabouts.

The superintendent appealed to the public to help them recover the rest of Noah's belongings.

"Our search for Noah continues," he said.

"We have not yet found his khaki green North Face coat and grey sweat shorts.

"We need to find these outstanding items. If anyone has found any of these items and not yet come forward, please call us immediately on 101.

"Again, I would like to thank everyone who has contacted police so far with information. If you have any information that you think might help.

"If you have any CCTV or dashcam footage that you think might help and have not yet come forward, please call us on 101 straight away."

Noah left his home in south Belfast around 5.30pm on Sunday, June 21 on his black Apollo mountain bike and was last seen at 6.11pm.

He had cycled along Northwood Road, where he abandoned all his clothing before being spotted a short time later cycling while naked. Police believe he then dropped his bicycle and left the area on foot.

Supt Clark said: "Despite a significant search operation involving local and specialist officers, specialist police dogs, our air support unit, assistance from community search and rescue colleagues and the public, there have been no further confirmed sightings of Noah since 6.11pm on Sunday."

When asked by the Belfast Telegraph if CCTV footage shows Noah removing his clothes, he replied: "We have information that shows that Noah has discarded some clothing and we also know that he was seen riding his bicycle completely naked."

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph on Thursday, Noah's mother Fiona said her son would have been the first to join in the search in a similar situation.

"Noah was all about community. If Noah was here and a child had gone missing, he would have been the first person out looking for them. That's the kind of boy he is."

Meanwhile members of the public who believe they have significant information which could help the investigation can now use the PSNI's Major Incident Public Portal (MIPP).

It is a 24/7 online reporting platform - which is another investigative tool for police to focus on finding Noah and for anyone with information to tell police what they know.

However if anyone has urgent information call 999 or 101 - do not use MIPP in those circumstances. The Major Incident Public Portal can be accessed at https://mipp.police.uk.

It can be accessed from any device with internet access and videos and images can be uploaded onto it.

Belfast Telegraph