Two boys found guilty of murdering 14-year-old Ana Kriegel
Following a seven-week trial the eight men and four women spent 14 hours and 25 minutes considering their verdicts.
By Eoin Reynolds
Warning: Some readers may find the details of this report disturbing.
A jury has convicted two 14-year-old boys of murdering "lonely and vulnerable" schoolgirl Anastasia Kriegel, whose naked body was found in an abandoned farmhouse 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. They cannot be identified because they are minors.
The trial heard evidence that Ana's blood was found on a "ghoulish mask" that the prosecution maintained Boy A had worn at the scene, which had "jagged teeth" and "simulated blood" around the mouth.
Pathology evidence showed 14-year-old Ana suffered a "very violent death" and had "fought for her life". She died from blunt force trauma to the head or compression of the neck, while there were bruises, abrasions and scratches to her "entire body".
Following a seven-week trial the eight men and four women spent 14 hours and 25 minutes considering their verdicts.
At 2.12pm this afternoon (TUE) the jury foreman, her hand shaking, handed the issue paper to the registrar of the court who read out the guilty verdicts. The foreman confirmed that each verdict was unanimous. Behind her other members of the jury could be seen crying as Justice Paul McDermott thanked them for their attention in what he said was a "very difficult trial". He exempted them from further jury service for life.
Justice McDermott then adjourned the trial until July 15 to allow probation, psychiatric and school reports to be submitted. He remanded both boys to Oberstown Detention Centre until that date.
Sitting at the back of the court, Boy A held his parents hands as the jury filed into the courtroom to return their verdicts at 2.11pm. As the guilty verdicts were read out, Boy A's mother sobbed uncontrollably, holding a tissue to her face. Boy A stared at the ground and rested his head on his mother's shoulder as he began to cry.
In the moments prior to the verdicts, Boy B sat between his parents at the back of the court and began doing breathing exercises. He held his mother's hand on her lap as he sat in between both his parents.
When the guilty verdict was read out, Boy B let go of his parents' hands and brought his hands up to his mouth. His father stared into the distance with his head in his hands before he took his son's hand to his mouth and kissed it. Boy B's mother sat in silence.
Seconds later, Boy B's father muttered angrily to himself and his lip began to tremble. He then stormed out of the courtroom to compose himself for a few minutes. He held hands with his son when he returned. As the courtroom began to empty out, Boy B's father shouted at Gardaí: "You bunch of scumbags, you fucking pricks, innocent boy."
Boy B then hugged his mother in a long embrace as Boy A was led to a consultation room holding his father’s hand. When Boy B was walking to the holding cell with his parents, his father clapped loudly to those remaining in the body of the courtroom.
Ana Kriegel’s parents Patric and Geraldine remained composed as the verdicts were read out. Mr Kriégel rested his hand on his wife’s knee as he had throughout the trial, she holding his hand.
Geraldine wept silently in the moments afterwards as she and her husband embraced friends and family. Mr and Mrs Kriégel nodded to the jury who cried silently as they left the courtroom, becoming more emotional as the moments passed. When the jury left the courtroom, the Kriegels huddled together with their friends and family. As they left court, Mr and Mrs Kriegel hugged the Gardaí and said “well done” to them. Two Garda vans arrived a short time later to take the boys away.
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 that was about a 20 to 30 minute walk from her home. She was naked but for a pair of socks and former State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy found she died from blunt force injuries to the head or injuries to the neck.
In Garda interviews 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 14 May, 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 Gardaí. She continued. “I was in between feeling like a paranoid mother, overprotective, and then being terrified.”
It would be three days before Gardaí 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.
Gardaí 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 Gardaí 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.
Gardaí 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 Gardaí. On 24 May both boys were arrested on suspicion of murder, questioned and their homes were searched.
Gardaí 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 Gardaí 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.
Gardaí 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 Gardaí 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 Gardaí 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 Gardaí 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. Gardaí 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 Gardaí 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 Gardaí 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.