Kriegel sentence hearing: Boy A admits causing Ana's death, denies sexual assault

Court Reporter

Reporter:

Court Reporter

ANA KRIEGEL MURDER TRIAL:

The late Anastasia (Ana) Kriegel

The mother of murdered schoolgirl Ana Kriegel has described her as an "ephemeral angel", unsuspecting of "the evil that lay in waiting for her" at the hands of her teenage killers.

The Central Criminal Court also heard today that the defendant known as Boy A now accepts he caused Ana's death but continues to deny sexually assaulting her, while his co-accused, known as Boy B, does not accept the unanimous jury verdict that found him guilty of murdering the 14-year-old. 

In an emotional statement delivered today Tuesday, October 29 Ana's mother Geraldine said Ana's family and friends were destroyed by her murder as they imagine the "terror, the pain that she suffered." She added: "No-one could suspect the evil that lay in waiting for her. No-one could anticipate the darkness that swirled in the soul of those that murdered and violated her."

As she spoke the two boys sat quietly in separate rows towards the front of the court flanked by their families. They kept their heads bowed. They also listened as Detective Inspector Mark O'Neill summarised the evidence that was heard during their trial earlier this year that resulted in both being convicted of Ana's murder. Boy A was further convicted of sexually assaulting Ana in a manner that involved serious violence to her.

Inspector O'Neill told Brendan Grehan SC for the Director of Public Prosecutions that since his conviction Boy A, who denied assaulting Ana during his trial, has been the subject of psychiatric and psychological reports.

As a result Det Insp O'Neill said Boy A has accepted that he caused Ana's death. The witness agreed with Mr Grehan that Boy A, "described various actions including headlock, choke hold, kicking, hitting her with a stick and ultimately a block which he either threw at her or hit off her head on three occasions."

But the inspector said that Boy A maintains that he did not sexually assault Ana and "puts forward an alternative explanation" for the forensics found at the scene. During the trial it emerged that Boy A's semen was found on Ana's top and there was evidence that she had been sexually assaulted. Her clothes were torn and strewn around the room of the derelict building where she was found. Her blood was visible on every wall and forensic scientist John Hoade said she was struck repeatedly on the head with a weapon while she lay on the floor and was then moved to another part of the room.

Inspector O'Neill also told the hearing that gardai found evidence that the boys planned Ana's murder. He said the boys planned a location to meet and that they were seen on CCTV wearing backpacks. Following the murder they had "a somewhat similar story to suggest Boy A had met Ana because of some kind of relationship issue but Boy A had turned Ana down and she had left."

Insp O'Neill said there was no contact between the boys between Ana's murder and the time they gave statements to gardai in which they gave false accounts that were "in general terms quite similar."

Inspector O'Neill further agreed that since conviction Boy B had maintained the position that he had no part in what happened. He said there remains no agreement between the two boys in relation to the planning and pre-meditation of the murder. He said there is a dispute as to whose idea it was to meet Ana in the first place, who decided that Boy B should call to her home, who decided they should meet at Glenwood House, who brought what to the house - in particular a piece of insulation tape that was found wrapped around Ana's neck.

They also did not agree on how and when Ana's clothes were removed, who assaulted Ana and with what. They disagreed on who smashed her phone when it started to ring (Ana's mother was trying to call her), who put the tape around her neck and whether the boys had previously talked about wanting to kill Ana.
Insp O'Neill said neither boy had come to garda attention prior to Ana's murder and neither have their parents. He added: "There doesn't appear to be any clear explanation as to why this happened."

The witness agreed with Patrick Gageby SC that Boy A's family are "decent, hard-working people" who cooperated with the investigation. Boy A, he agreed, had no trouble in school and was not on the garda radar. He further agreed that although it is an offence to identify Boy A he had been named in graffiti and on social media.

He further agreed with Damien Colgan SC, on behalf of Boy B, that Boy B had also not come to garda attention and although gardai examined his phone and laptop nothing sinister was found. The boy's family are hard working people, he said, and have never come to the attention of gardai.

Addressing Justice McDermott, Mr Gageby said that before him is a young man who was 13 years of age at the time of Ana's murder. He has no previous convictions never came to the adverse attention of gardai and has no history of anti-social behaviour. Since he was charged with Ana's murder his good behaviour has continued while in detention and while out on bail. He is studying for his junior certificate. 

He added: "So perhaps unlike may of the children before the courts, it is far from a dysfunctional family, quite the reverse." He said Boy A had made admissions that he caused Ana's death which are detailed in reports handed to the court. He said there is no indication that there was any link between his environment and the offence and he "comes from a small, close, loving supportive family." There is also no evidence, counsel said, of any personality disorder or mental illness.

Mr Gageby pointed to one report in which the treating doctor had noted "substantial remorse and tears" when Boy A talked about Ana's murder. 

He added: "All of the reports opine that there is much work to be done here in relation to this young man and even bringing him to the realisation of the consequences of his terrible actions on that day. A high level of intervention is warranted, perhaps to be spread over years."

Mr Gageby did not advise the judge on sentencing but asked him to consider the boy's age and previous court decisions that found that juveniles convicted of murder "may develop into very different personalities" when they become adults. He said any sentence must punish the offence and act as a deterrent to others and protect society. However, this should be balanced by the need for Boy A to be rehabilitated. He said it is in the public interest that the boy be returned to society as a law-abiding person. He further suggested that the judge could impose a sentence that can be reviewed after a certain period of time. 

Damien Colgan SC for Boy B said it is clear from the reports handed into the court that his client does not accept the verdict. Counsel said he is therefore limited in what he can say. He said the judge has the benefit of reports which detail Boy B's education. He also revealed that there has been a falling out between Boy B and his father over the boy's "failure to deal with matters in the way he expected him to on the day." Boy B's father, who was present throughout the trial, was not present for the sentence hearing.

Mr Colgan said the reports state that his client is at a low risk of re-offending and also has "personal difficulties" and "suicidal tendencies". He further pointed to the boy's remorse and "guilt in respect of his inactivity, why he didn't intervene to assist

Ana Kriegel, and he is going to have to live with this for the rest of his life."
Mr Colgan said there was "nothing sinister" on Boy B's phone or laptop and the reports have shown no issues concerning his mental health. He said the family of Boy B is now "isolated" and the boy himself is isolated in the detention centre where he has been held since conviction. He said that during garda interviews the boy thought he was doing his best to assist gardai in their investigation and "this has been used to convict him". The evidence against Boy B was largely gleaned from what he said over the course of seven garda interviews. Mr Colgan asked the court to be "as lenient as possible" and reminded Justice McDermott that no DNA belonging to Boy B was found at the scene.

Mr Grehan told Justice McDermott that while the reports had stated that Boy B was at low risk of reoffending, they also said that this would have to be revised if there was any evidence that Boy B was involved in planning Ana's murder of if he had "active involvement in sexual or violent acts" on Ana.

The two boys, referred to in the media as Boy A and Boy B, were 13 years old when they murdered Ana Kriegel in an abandoned house at Laraghcon, Clonee Road, Lucan on May 14 2018. Now aged 15, they were convicted by unanimous jury verdicts earlier this year. Boy A was also convicted of Ana's aggravated sexual assault in a manner that involved serious violence to her.

The grandfather of Boy A told the Central Criminal Court that his grandson was "incredibly remorseful" about what happened to the teenage girl and wished it never occurred. 

Taking the stand, the man said he had "sincere and utter sympathy" for the Kriegel family and could not imagine their loss. 

"The death of a child is a parent's worst nightmare especially given the horrific circumstances of Ana’s death. Having listened to Ms Kriegel, who spoke so elegantly and passionately, what I have here does not go close to what she said about Ana and the consequences of her death," he said. 

Boy A's paternal grandfather said he would like to express the family's "sincerest regret and remorse" and he knew that the teenager was "incredibly remorseful for what happened" and wished "it never occurred". 

Boys between the ages of 11 and 13 can be a difficult time, both mentally and physically, he said, adding that boys of this age can be difficult for parents and teachers to manage but the majority of them remain "unaffected by new circumstances". The man said his grandson was "one of the majority", who loved practical subjects such as art, science, woodwork as well as metalwork and nothing pleased him more than preparing detailed drawings and making models. 

"I am personally heartbroken that my much-loved grandson could have been involved in something like this," he said, adding that his grandchild was a loving, caring and kind child, who never showed aggression or ill-temper.

He said Boy A was much-loved by his parents and grandparents. "There will be a major gap in all our lives without his constant presence. Our lives have been turned upside down, all going through huge emotional turmoil and loss," he continued. 

In summary, the man said he will support his grandson in any way that he can, now and in the future. "I hope to have ongoing positive involvement with his rehabilitation and development," he concluded.

Mr Justice McDermott will sentence the boys next Tuesday, November 5.


Evidence in trial:
More than 60 witnesses gave evidence in the trial which began on April 30. Ana's parents were among the first to be called. Her father Patric said Ana had "a big smile" when she left the family home with Boy B at about 5pm on May 14, 2018. Boy B had called to the Kriegel home and told Ana that Boy A wanted to see her. Ana had a crush on Boy A and, in his closing speech to the jury, prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan SC said it must have seemed as though her dreams had come true as she "bounded out of the house".  Within 40 minutes she would be dead.

Ana was a "loner" and her father was surprised when Boy B called to the house as nobody ever called for her. He heard her whispering at the door before she grabbed her black hoodie and left.
She told her father she wouldn't be long and Mr Kriegel said he believed she meant it, but he forgot to ask where she was going. When Ana's mother Geraldine found out she had gone out she was immediately concerned. She described her daughter as "very immature, a child on the inside."

She said: “On the outside she looked older and liked to wear makeup, but inside she was far younger than her years." Ana didn't have friends, she said, apart from her cousins.
Mrs Kriegel texted her daughter telling her to come home immediately and demanding she respond or she would call gardai.

She continued. “I was in between feeling like a paranoid mother, overprotective, and then being terrified.” 
It would be three days before gardai discovered Ana's body in an abandoned house about a 20 to 30 minute walk from her home. She was naked but for a pair of socks and had injuries covering most of her body, head and neck.

Gardai investigating Ana's disappearance discovered that Boy A and Boy B had met Ana that Monday evening. When they called to Boy A he told them that he met her "randomly" in the park and she asked him out but he "let her down gently". Boy B had a different story, telling gardai that he arranged with Boy A to get Ana and bring her to the park so that Boy A could tell Ana that he didn't want to have a relationship with her.

Gardai got the boys to retrace their steps in the park and then used CCTV to check their accounts. Their stories didn't match and CCTV showed that they weren't where they said they were at the times they gave gardai. On May 24 both boys were arrested on suspicion of murder, questioned and their homes were searched.

Gardai gathered what Mr Grehan described as "overwhelming" evidence against Boy A. It included CCTV footage contradicting his version of events, forensic evidence linking him to the scene and to Ana's body, phone internet searches for "abandoned places in Lucan" among other things and circumstantial evidence including the injuries he presented with on the evening of May 14 which he claimed were the result of a random assault by two men in the park.

Semen matching Boy A's DNA was found on Ana's top at the scene and his DNA was on her neck and on both ends of a long piece of insulating tape that was wrapped around her neck. Her blood was found on his boots and on a backpack, homemade 'zombie' mask, knee pads and gloves gardai found in a wardrobe in his bedroom. The blood spatter pattern on his boots showed, according to forensic scientist John Hoade, that he either assaulted Ana or was in close proximity to her when she was assaulted.

Mr Hoade described the mask that the prosecution said Boy A was wearing during the assault as a "half mask" with "jagged teeth"  and "simulated blood" around the mouth. Boy B described it in his garda interviews as a "zombie mask". Mr Hoade found blood on the outside and inside of the mask and again the DNA matched that of Ana's. He also found mixed DNA matching Boy A and Ana on the inside of the mask.

Gardai called the contents of the bag a "murder kit" and Mr Grehan said the blood showed that Boy A was wearing the mask, shin guards, knee pads, hoodie and boots when he assaulted Ana.

Having outlined the evidence against Boy A in his closing speech Mr Grehan described his denials that he was in the abandoned house as like the child who has eaten the biscuits and has "chocolate all around the mouth and they are still saying they didn't do it." He further told the jury they can, "discount any possible consensual activity taking place on that dirty, dark floor." He said there is also nothing to suggest that Ana, "simply succumbed to some kind of overture. She fought with her life. She was murdered by [Boy A] and he sexually assaulted her in a very violent way."

In his closing, defence counsel for Boy A Patrick Gageby SC said that there was no evidence Boy A planned to murder Ana. In his garda interviews Boy A denied assaulting Ana, denied being in the house where her body was found and said he last saw her in the park.

The alleged murder weapons were a stick and a concrete block found at the scene close to Ana's body. Both were stained with Ana's blood and Mr Hoade found evidence that Ana was struck several times on the head with a weapon while she lay on the floor. Other blood stains indicated she was first assaulted while upright and an area of blood staining on the carpet further suggested she lay bleeding on the ground for some time before being moved to the part of the room where she was found by gardai three days after she was reported missing. Ana's clothes were strewn around the room, her top and bra had been ripped asunder and there was a boot print on her hoodie.

Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy identified "extensive injuries" to Ana's head and neck which had caused her death. She described bruises, abrasions and scratches all over her body and Mr Grehan suggested the evidence showed that Ana's clothes had been removed when she suffered those injuries. Professor Cassidy also pointed to evidence that Ana put up a struggle but "may have been unconscious when sexually assaulted." She said Ana had not been previously sexually active. Mr Grehan said: "Ana suffered a very violent death where she fought for her life." He added: "There's no doubt that Ana Kriegel did not simply succumb into unconsciousness."

The evidence against Boy B was largely gleaned from what he said in his garda interviews. Mr Grehan said he told a mixture of "lies, untruths and half-truths". During those interviews, Boy B initially told gardai he brought Ana to meet Boy A at a particular point in the park and then went home. When CCTV contradicted this version he said the meeting point was in a different area of the park, closer to the abandoned house. As gardai continued to push him to tell the truth he admitted to going as far as the field in which the abandoned house is located. Over the course of five interviews on May 24 and 25 he finally admitted to being in the abandoned house where he said he saw Boy A assault Ana but ran away when Boy A started taking off her bra. He was rearrested on July 7 after DNA evidence suggested that Boy A had been wearing the mask and other items during the assault. Gardai asked Boy B if he had anything to tell them about the mask, shin pads and knee pads. He at first said he didn't remember if Boy A was wearing them but later accepted that he was. He told gardai that he didn't mention it earlier because he didn't think it was important.

During that second round of interviews Boy B also told gardai that Boy A had told him about one month before Ana's death that he wanted to kill Ana. He said he was sitting by himself when Boy A came over and asked if he wanted to kill somebody. Boy B said: "I said, no. He replied: 'Ah here, why not?" I said because it's retarded and he was like, 'oh, come on'. I then asked who he was planning to kill and he replied, 'Ana Kriegel'. I replied with, 'in your dreams,' and he just left. I didn't think he was being serious."

Mr Grehan said Boy B "lured" Ana to her death and added: "Any suggestion that he assisted in this matter without the knowledge of what was to happen is not credible."
Defence counsel for Boy B Damien Colgan SC said the prosecution case against his client did not "add up in any shape or form". He said there was no evidence Boy B knew what was going to happen to the schoolgirl.
Boy B told his friend that Boy A "snaked him" as he got him to collect Ana and this was "exactly what happened" to Boy B in this case, said Mr Colgan, adding that he had been "set up" by his co-accused. 

Boy B did not know what was going on in Boy A's mind, he had "no knowledge" about what was going to happen that day and there was "no plan," said Mr Colgan. Mr Colgan said Boy B brought Ana to the house because he thought he might see some "drama" or "kissing" that he could tell his friends about.