The Chilling Story Of Noah Donohoe, The Belfast Boy Who Was Found Dead In A Storm Drain

Published March 15, 2023
Updated March 16, 2023

On June 21, 2020, cameras captured a bizarre series of events leading up to the disappearance of 14-year-old Noah Donohoe — including footage of the boy inexplicably riding his bike naked down a busy street in Belfast.

In the summer of 2020, Northern Ireland was rattled by the mysterious disappearance of a local schoolboy, Noah Donohoe. Volunteers arrived in droves to help search for him after he vanished while biking through Belfast.

But when his body was eventually found — and his belongings were discovered in the possession of a career criminal — the community began to suspect foul play.

Noah Donohoe

TwitterNoah Donohoe with his mother, Fiona.

Noah Donohoe, 14, lived with his mother, Fiona Donohoe, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was his mother’s only child, and the two were very close. Fiona even described him as her soulmate.

He was an excellent student of science and math and had dreams of studying medicine. He enjoyed playing the cello, shooting hoops on his school’s basketball team, and teaching himself Japanese. “He was genuinely just a beautiful soul,” his aunt, Niamh Donohoe, later said about him.

According to VICE, there was no indication that anything was off with Donohoe the day he disappeared — but CCTV footage tells a completely different story.

Noah Donohoe’s Bizarre Actions Before His Disappearance

On June 21, 2020, Noah Donohoe left home on his bicycle at 5:45 p.m. to meet up with friends at a park across town. It was a route he had traveled many times before. He was carrying his backpack, which held his laptop and several books.

Five minutes later, Donohoe was spotted on CCTV footage riding down Royal Avenue, a busy shopping district. By the time he made it to the end of the street, however, his backpack was gone. No one witnessed how he lost the bag, and the cameras didn’t capture what had happened to it. 

At 6:00 p.m., a driver saw Donohoe fall off his bike at an intersection. The helpful citizen tried to help the boy up, but Donohoe quickly rode off. CCTV next captured Donohoe riding his bicycle miles away from where he was supposed to be meeting up with friends. This time, the teen was naked and missing his helmet, as reported by BBC

Noah Donohoe In A Suit

TwitterNoah Donohoe was a talented student who loved music and sports.

A witness confirmed seeing the young man without any clothes riding in a neighborhood far from his planned route. Again, CCTV was unable to capture where the boy had lost his belongings.

At 6:03 p.m., the final recording of Donohoe captured him getting off of his bike and walking naked down the side of a house toward the gated Seaview Park. It was the last time the boy was seen alive. 

When Donohoe failed to come home that night, his mother, Fiona, immediately became concerned. He had promised to call her at 6:30 p.m., and he was typically very punctual. At 9:30 p.m., she called the police to report him missing.

Authorities immediately began looking for the boy, and search and rescue teams soon recovered his bicycle in the neighborhood where he was last seen on camera. They also found his cell phone near the route he had been cycling. Strangely, his clothing was never recovered.

After six days, the exhaustive search ended when Donohoe’s lifeless body was discovered in a storm drain half a mile from where he had abandoned his bike. Police believe he entered a drain at Seaview Park that a maintenance worker had mistakenly left unlocked. Although the search was over, the discovery of Donohoe’s body only led to more questions about his bizarre death.

The Confusion Surrounding The Teen’s Death

Though Donohoe’s body had been in the drain system for days by the time it was found, it showed very few signs of water damage. A medical examiner concluded that he had died from drowning, but Fiona and Niamh Donohoe weren’t so sure.

“The tide comes twice a day in those tunnels, so he would’ve been submerged twice a day,” they said, according to VICE. “But the only water damage to Noah’s body was his hands and feet. And there’s sewage in that tunnel, so sewage and bacteria would have done horrendous damage. Also, there was no rodent damage, no insect damage.”

Muir Clark, a superintendent of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, announced that there was no evidence to suggest foul play was involved, according to The Guardian — and the coroner agreed. Clark stated that he believed Noah had suffered a head injury after falling off his bike and had become disoriented.

Noah Donohoe Smiling

Facebook/Noah Donohoe JusticeNoah Donohoe inexplicably went missing after going out for a bike ride.

In another suspicious twist, Noah Donohoe’s laptop was later found in the possession of a known local criminal named Daryl Paul, who had previous convictions of theft and armed robbery. Paul claimed that he had found Donohoe’s backpack near Royal Avenue, and he was never officially implicated in the teen’s murder.

However, the public began to wonder if the official narrative of what had happened to Donohoe was fabricated. Rumors began to circulate, and numerous theories spread throughout the community — including allegations of a police cover-up.

The Theories Behind The Mysterious Death Of Noah Donohoe

In the years since Donohoe’s death, his mother and aunt have launched a campaign disputing the official version of events that led to the boy’s disappearance. They have spent countless hours poring through all of the information in the case disclosure. The sisters are convinced that someone else was involved in Donohoe’s death and frustrated with how the police handled the case.

Fiona Donohoe alleged that four witnesses heard screaming near the spot where her son was last spotted. She claimed that she went to the police with this story — but they never followed up.

There was another rumor that someone attacked young Donohoe with a heroin needle as he biked down Royal Avenue, which may have led to his bizarre behavior. Other theories included drug-induced psychosis, an initiation ceremony gone wrong, and even suicide.

Noah Donohoe CCTV Footage

YouTubeCCTV footage of Noah Donohoe on his bicycle the day he disappeared.

Fiona’s application for an inquest into the death of her son was granted in November 2022, according to the Fermanagh Herald. She is hoping that the inquest will provide more answers about what really happened to her son on that fateful day.

As Niamh Donohoe told the Sunday World, “We don’t know the truth. We don’t know what happened to Noah and that’s what we’re trying to do — we’re just trying to find the truth.”

After learning about the baffling case of Noah Donohoe, read about Maddie Clifton, the eight-year-old who was murdered by her 14-year-old neighbor. Then, discover the case of Michelle O’Connell, who was found dead after trying to break up with her police officer boyfriend.

Rivy Lyon
True crime expert Rivy Lyon holds a Bachelor's degree in criminology, psychology, and sociology. A former private investigator, she has also worked with CrimeStoppers, the Innocence Project, and disaster response agencies across the U.S. She transitioned into investigative journalism in 2020, focusing primarily on unsolved homicides and missing persons.
Cara Johnson
A writer and editor based in Charleston, South Carolina and an assistant editor at All That's Interesting, Cara Johnson holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Washington & Lee University and an M.A. in English from College of Charleston and has written for various publications in her six-year career.
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Lyon, Rivy. "The Chilling Story Of Noah Donohoe, The Belfast Boy Who Was Found Dead In A Storm Drain.", March 15, 2023, Accessed June 16, 2024.