‘Ana will stay in our hearts . . . forever loved, forever cherished’

By Eoin Reynolds and Alison O'Riordan

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, who cannot be identified because they are minors, had pleaded not guilty and were on trial at the Central Criminal Court.

ANA 1

Anastasia Kriegel

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 14.12 on Tuesday afternoon 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.

Outside court Ana’s parents Patric and Geraldine spoke briefly to the media. Patric remarked that “Ana was our strength”, while Geraldine said: “Ana was a dream come true for us and she always will be. She will stay in our hearts, forever loved and forever cherished. We love you Ana.”

Earlier, sitting at the back of the court, Boy A held his parents hands as the jury filed in to return their verdicts. As the guilty verdicts were read out, Boy A’s mother sobbed uncontrollably, holding a tissue to her face. Boy A 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 and 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 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 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 gardai: “You bunch of scumbags, you fucking pr**ks, 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.

Ana Kriegel’s parents Patric and Geraldine remained composed as the verdicts were read out. Mr Kriegel 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.

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 gardai 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.

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 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.

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. On May 24 both boys were arrested on suspicion of murder, 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”, and circumstantial evidence including injuries he presented with 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, a 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”.

Having outlined the evidence against Boy A in his closing speech Mr Grehan  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 garda interviews Boy A denied assaulting Ana, and denied being in the house where her body was found.

The alleged murder weapons were a stick and a concrete block found 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 while she lay on the floor. 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. 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.

The evidence against Boy B was largely gleaned from what he said in his garda interviews. Over the course of five interviews he finally admitted to being in the abandoned house where he said he saw Boy A assault Ana.

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