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The two youngest murderers in the history of the State: The story of the Ana Kriegel trial

The jury today came to its verdict after over 14 hours of deliberation.

“ANA DIDN’T HAVE any friends.” These were the words of Geraldine Kriegel – the mother of murdered 14-year-old Ana, whose body was found in a derelict farmhouse in Lucan on 17 May 2018 three days after she disappeared. 

This was a trial which captivated public attention – two boys, both aged 13 at the time, were charged with her murder, with one also charged with aggravated sexual assault. This was an unprecedented murder trial.

Two boys conspiring with each other to lure a girl who they knew had no friends to a derelict house where she would be sexually assaulted, choked, tied up and beaten to death. 

Due to the boys’ ages, Children’s Court rules applied. 

The public was not allowed into the courtroom at the Central Criminal Court. Just the judge, prosecution and defence teams, the media, the accused and their families, Ana’s family and gardaí were allowed in. 

Unlike normal trials, the two accused never had to sit in the dock. Instead they were allowed sit in the back of the court. Shorter sittings and multiple breaks were allowed. 

From the outset, prosecution senior counsel Brendan Grehan painted a picture of Ana, the adopted teenager of Russian background, a bright girl who loved to sing and dance, someone who had experienced tortuous bullying by her schoolmates and by anonymous internet trolls who said they wanted to “execute” her. 

On May 14 2018 shortly before 5pm, Ana Kriegel was in her room when there was a knock on her front door. Her father Patric said that this was an unusual occurrence – people wouldn’t often call for Ana. This time a 13-year-old boy called to the Kriegel home looking to speak to the 14-year-old. 

The court was told how Ana, seeming excited, ran up to her room to get her hoodie and walked out the door. She would not come home. 

Boy B had called for her on behalf of Boy A – both now convicted killers. 

As Ana and Boy B walked through St Catherine’s Park in Lucan, they spoke about normal things; school and the vaccinations they were due to receive, the boy would later tell the trial. According to Boy B, Ana then showed him a photograph of her tied up in a chair. He told gardaí she said an ex-boyfriend had done this to her – he said he was frightened by what he saw. 

The two walked through the park where Boy A was arriving from a different direction. 

The boys’ stories as to why they called for Ana matched – Boy A had heard that Ana fancied him and he wanted to let her down gently. That’s what they told gardaí.

It later emerged that Boy A didn’t want to be seen with Ana. Boy B described how those seen in her company could be “slagged” as a result. 

What we know is that between 5.15pm and 5.47pm on 14 May 2018, Ana lost her life in a derelict farmhouse at the hands of Boy A. She was choked, beaten, sexually assaulted, attacked with a ripped piece of door frame and struck with half a concrete block.

The first two weeks of the trial dealt mostly with the case against Boy A. Conflicting reports he gave to gardaí about his movements on the day of Ana’s disappearance roused the suspicions of officers, who were initially investigating a missing person case. 

On the same day the teenager was reported missing, gardaí also created a separate incident report based on an alleged assault reported by Boy A. Before Ana was reported missing, the boy had reported to gardaí that he was attacked between the hours of 5.15pm and 5.47pm on 14 May 2018. 

Boy A told gardaí that when he had left Ana, he began walking home. He said he became aware of two men walking behind him. 

He said “it didn’t feel right” so he sped up, but that made the men behind him speed up too. 

File photo Two 14-year-old boys have been found guilty of the murder of Ana Kriégel in Lucan just over a year ago. End. Glenwood House. Source: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

Boy A told gardaí: “They caught up to me. One of them grabbed me by the shoulder and pulled me down to the ground.”

He said that he was kicked numerous times in the chest and back, but added:

After a minute I managed to kick one in the head and then they both ran off.

He then went on to describe both of the alleged attackers and said they were around 19 or 20 years old. He said they did not demand any money or property from him. 

CCTV evidence throws doubt over Boy A’s claims 

Garda Seamus Timmins is a CCTV expert working for An Garda Síochána. He and his colleagues trawled through over 700 hours of CCTV footage – most of it taken from inside St Catherine’s Park. Footage was also obtained from cameras in a nearby housing estate which picked up the movements of Boy B and Ana walking towards the park. 

Here’s what CCTV evidence the jury was shown: 

  • At 5.05pm: Boy A seen wearing gloves and carrying a backpack walking in the park.
  • At 5.14pm: Two figures can be seen walking. Garda Timmons said he believed these two to be Boy B and Ana.
  • At 5.49pm: Boy B allegedly seen walking back across a park.
  • At 5.56pm: Person walking through the park – believed to be Boy B.
  • At 5.57pm: Person seen holding a bag in their left hand similar to one carried by Boy A.

Coincidence is something few gardaí have much time for. So for Ana to disappear and for Boy A to be assaulted in the same 30 minute period in a safe area, during daylight hours, didn’t really add up for officers. Either those who attacked Boy A were involved in Ana’s disappearance or Boy A wasn’t telling the truth. 

For a 13-year-old boy to manage to kick a grown man in the head and chase off the other man was not believable to officers. 

Garda Timmins told the trial that he had reviewed the CCTV evidence a number of times but could not find anyone who matched the description of the two men Boy A alleged assaulted him on 14 May 2018. 

Boy A clung to the lie about the two attackers even after he was arrested for Ana’s murder. 

Detective Garda Tomás Doyle showed him more CCTV, which featured two males. The garda witness said Boy A told him that they “looked like the lads” who beat him up. The men who allegedly attacked Boy A did not exist and gardaí suspected as much. 

6524 Kriegal trial_90573502 Ana's parents Patric and Geraldine. Source: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

After viewing another still image, Boy A told gardaí: “I think this might be good news,” adding that he believed the image to be that of one of the men who allegedly attacked him in the park on the day of Ana’s disappearance. 

Despite being told Ana’s blood was found on his shoes, that her DNA was on clothes found in backpack in his room, Boy A continued to plead his innocence. 

The crime scene

Glenwood House is a derelict farmhouse just outside St Catherine’s Park on the Dublin/Kildare border. It is essentially in ruins – its roof has collapsed in places, it was used as a place for people to drink, smoke, and set fires, the court was told. 

When Ana’s body was discovered, it was covered in layers of dust and debris. The first garda to spot her naked body told his sergeant he hoped he had a found a mannequin instead of the body of the child. 

The room where her beaten body lay was “filthy”, according to prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan. Fires were routinely lit in the house.

Half a concrete brick, smeared with blood and with hair stuck to it was found just inside the door. A part of a door frame was also shown to the jury – it was also covered in blood. 

Blood spatter was dotted across the room.

The gardaí who were first to spot Ana’s body commented that she suffered serious and extensive injuries to her head and neck – her mouth was filled with blood.

Ana’s body lay face up – a large length of branded builders’ tape wrapped around her neck. The court would hear that when her body was found, Ana’s left hand was clasped around the tape as if she was attempting to pull it away from her – a sign that she tried to fight off the person who would take her life. 

Former State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy told the jury that the 14-year-old suffered multiple fractures, bruising and lacerations to her body at the time of her death.

She detailed to the court that there were over 55 sites of injury on the teenager’s body. Ana had extensive bruising on her face, with irregular splits in her scalp. There were fractures to her eye socket, upper jaw, cheekbone and to the cartilage in her neck. 

Professor Cassidy said there was evidence to suggest there was an attempt to penetrate Ana’s vagina. Professor Cassidy said that Ana may have been unconscious or otherwise restrained when the alleged attempted penetration occurred, the court heard. 

Ana also suffered haemorrhaging to the lining inside her eyelids. Professor Cassidy explained to the jury that these injuries are commonly seen in someone who is suffering from a lack of oxygen. She said one factor that may cause these types of injury is mechanical asphyxia or “compression of neck such as strangulation”.

Multiple gardaí and forensic experts would later tell the trial that they agreed Ana had been subjected to a brutal and vicious attack.

The DNA evidence which placed Boy A at the murder scene

On 15 May 2019, the third week of the trial, the jury heard evidence that proved Boy A’s incontrovertible involvement in Ana’s murder. 

Forensic expert John Hoade tested a number of items which were seized by gardaí following the execution of a search warrant after the two boys were arrested for Ana’s murder on 24 May 2018.

scene kriegal 951_90572814 Tributes at the scene where Ana Kriegel was found. Source: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

Gardaí found a blue-and-white backpack in a wardrobe in Boy A’s bedroom. 

When the bag was searched it was found to contain a mask, gloves, a snood (a type of head and neckwear), knee pads and shin pads. 

In his evidence, Hoade said that he found blood staining on the mask, knee pads and gloves, as well as on the bag itself. He said this blood matched the DNA profile of Ana Kriegel.

In testing the mask, Hoade said he found a mixed DNA profile which matched that of Boy A and Ana Kriegel. 

Hoade also found Ana’s blood on Boy A’s boots.

When this was put to Boy A in his garda interviews, his reply was “Are you joking me?”

Another forensic scientist found DNA matching that of Boy A in semen staining found on a black top discovered in the room where Ana was found. 

Marce Lee Gorman of Forensic Science Ireland said there were two areas of a black strapped top which had semen staining on them. 

Lee Gorman said that when she tested the clothing she was able to generate a mixed-DNA profile. She said the profile matched both Boy A and Ana Kriegel. There was also a third unidentified DNA profile found.

Lee Gorman said there were two possibilities considered in her analysis of the staining. The first was that the DNA belonged to Ana, Boy A and another unidentified person or that it came from three unrelated people. She said she estimated that statistically, the first option was 1,000 million times more likely.

Boy B finally tells gardaí what he saw Boy A do to Ana

In an interview with gardaí on 25 May last year Boy B said he saw Boy A “flip” Ana and start to attack her on the evening of 14 May 2018. 

He said Ana started to plead with Boy A to stop. Boy B said that his co-accused at that point began removing her clothes. 

In interviews conducted with gardaí at Finglas Garda Station, Detective Garda Donal Daly told Boy B that he was looking for the truth and nothing else.

Boy B told gardaí: “At first, I walked around but then I went back to the carpet area and I saw him flip her and start to choke her. When I saw that, I instantly knew what was happening and I was just shook. I didn’t know what to do.

“She was starting to cry a bit, she kept, like, saying ‘no, no don’t do this’ then [Boy A] started taking off her clothes but I left before he got to take off the bra.”

File photo Two 14-year-old boys have been found guilty of the murder of Ana Kriégel in Lucan just over a year ago. End. A Garda forensic team at the scene in Lucan. Source: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

He later added: “So as [Boy A] was taking off her clothes – he looked at the door where I was standing and I sprinted away.” He described the incident to gardaí as “horrifying”.

Earlier in the interview, Boy B told officers that he saw Boy A put his arm around her and then “he kind of hugged her I guess. He put his arm around her and I don’t know what was happening.” 

He said: “It was weird when I saw him do that. I thought something was about to happen so I left.” 

The court could see in the recorded video interviews how Boy A flipped Ana to the floor. Boy B stood up and showed Detective Garda Donal Daly exactly what happened.

The reenactment was followed by a concerted shuffling of paper and writing on notepads among the members of the jury. 

‘He was planning to kill Ana – I didn’t know’

In the garda video recordings, Boy B told gardaí that he was in school when he was approached by Boy A around a month before Ana died. 

“I was in school by myself. He came up to me and said ‘hey, wanna kill somebody’. I said no. He replied with ‘ah, here. Why not’. [I said] because it’s retarded. I then asked him who he was planning to kill and he replied ‘Ana Kriegel’. I replied with ‘in your dreams’. Then he just went. I didn’t think he was being serious.”

Earlier in that interview, Boy B told gardaí that he had called over for Ana on behalf of Boy A.

Gardaí had told Boy B that they found a number of items in a backpack in Boy A’s house. They told him they found gloves, knee pads, shin pads, and a snood as well as a mask. Boy B, at first, told officers that he had seen the mask before in Boy A’s house but didn’t see it in the abandoned house on 14 May. 

In the video, he was asked by gardaí why Boy A’s bag contained a mask, gloves, knee pads and shin pads if he was there to deal with a relationship matter. 

Boy B responded: “He was planning to kill Ana – I didn’t know.” 

Verdict

At 2.13pm this afternoon, the two boys learned their fate. 

The forewoman’s hand shook as she passed the piece of paper containing the verdicts to the court registrar.

From there, the forewoman confirmed that the jury of eight men and four women had unanimously come to three guilty verdicts – two for murder and the guilty verdict of aggravated sexual assault against Boy A. 

Sat at the back of the courtroom, Boy B turned to his mother and asked: “I’m guilty?” The mother hugged her son while his father became noticeably upset. At times, he began directing expletives at gardaí and the court. 

The family hugged for a number of minutes before Boy B was brought into custody. 

Boy A’s family were sat in the corner of the room. The family wept as the verdicts were read out. 

The two teen boys will be held in custody in Oberstown detention centre in Dublin until they are sentenced in four weeks’ time.

Ana’s family wept quietly on the other side of the courtroom, having endured nearly eight weeks of pressure. Thanking the prosecution counsel and gardaí, they left knowing that justice had been done for Ana.

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