The late Anastasia Kriegel
Two teenage boys have been found guilty of murdering 14-year-old schoolgirl Anastasia Kriegel whose naked body was found in an abandoned house three days after she went missing.
Boy A was also found guilty of Ana's aggravated sexual assault in a manner that involved serious violence to her. Both boys had pleaded not guilty and were on trial at the Central Criminal Court.
Following six weeks of evidence and a week of listening to speeches from prosecution and defence barristers and a charge by Justice Paul McDermott the eight men and four women spent 14 hours and 25 minutes considering their verdicts.
At 14.02 this afternoon the registrar of the court read out the guilty verdicts and the jury foreman confirmed that each verdict was unanimous.
Justice Paul McDermott adjourned the trial until July 15 to allow probation reports to be submitted.
EVIDENCE FROM TRIAL
During the trial the jury heard that Ana went missing after leaving home on the evening of Monday May 14, 2018 and was found three days later in an abandoned house about a 20 to 30 minutes walk from her home. She was naked but for a pair of socks and former State Pathologist Marie Cassidy found she died from blunt force injuries to the head and injuries to the neck.
Boy A denied being in the house where Ana was killed while Boy B said he saw Boy A "flip" Ana and strip her clothes but ran away when he saw Boy A attempting to remove her bra.
Brendan Grehan SC for the prosecution said the evidence against Boy A was "overwhelming" and that the case against Boy B was made out by "lies, untruths and half-truths" he told during garda interviews.
Evidence in trial
More than 60 witnesses gave evidence in the trial which began on April 30 and 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 however, 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. She craved friendship and when she did eventually find a friend it was "really special to her," her mother said. "I was really happy for her because she needed that."
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 that was 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 on the Monday that Ana went missing 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 one garda noticed a "glance" between the two boys when they met in the park. 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 being 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.