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'You will be given a chance to reconstruct your life - I hope you take it': The convictions of Boy A and B

“Her family must bear their grief. You will be given a chance to reconstruct your life – I hope you take it.”

Image: Family photo/PrimeTime

AS BOY A and Boy B sat in Court 9 of the CCJ flanked by their parents, they heard the words of Judge Paul McDermott urging them to take a chance at life – something he said  they had heartlessly taken from Ana Kriegel. 

McDermott detailed the callous nature in which Ana lost her life, her body stripped naked and abused. He recounted the horrific details which landed both Boy A and Boy B in court. 

Giving his sentence, McDermott said that while Ana’s family must bear their grief, “you will be given a chance to reconstruct your life – I hope you take it”.

He asked them: “How will you take it? You have the opportunity for a future, a second chance, something you so wrongfully and cruelly denied to Ana Kriegel.”

Boy A, who was convicted of the 14-year-old girl’s murder and aggravated sexual assault received a life sentence. It will be reviewed after an initial 12 years detention. He was also placed on the sex offenders’ register.

Boy B was convicted of murder. It was the prosecution’s case that he knew that he was bringing Ana to the abandoned house to be killed. He still denies this is the case. Boy B received 15 years with a review after eight. 

But the reason these two boys will have another chance at life is partly down to how children in Ireland are sentenced. 

Despite the contradictions in their discussions with Oberstown staff, McDermott’s job was to use the scant precedence available from previous cases to sentence the two boys for these unprecedented crimes. In his judgement, he told the court that there is “little guidance when sentencing [children] for murder” as “thankfully” very few ever come before the Irish courts. 

However, from the outset, McDermott warned that he had the power to sentence both boys to life in prison despite the boys both being 13 years old when they committed the crimes. 

Before handing down the terms, the trial judge noted that the age of the boys must be a “substantial mitigating factor” and that the framework set out in the Children’s Act 2001 focussed on the rehabilitation of child offenders. He said the act sets out the “best interests of the child”.

McDermott, in his lengthy judgement yesterday, said that in addition to the gravity of the offence, the court “must take into account age, underlying motivations, offender’s level of culpability and maturity”. He added that the convicted killers’ attitudes towards the offence and their levels of remorse were also factors in the sentencing. 

Setting out the reasons behind the sentence Justice McDermott said the principles when sentencing children are “significantly different in emphasis, purpose and result to those applied to an adult convicted of murder”.

He said children must be treated differently and the boys’ ages are a “substantial mitigating factor that allows the court to deviate substantially” from the mandatory life sentence that would be imposed on an adult convicted of the same crime.

Boys A and B’s sentences will be reviewed in 12 and eight years respectively, unless a court of appeal application by either of the convicted is successful. This does not mean the boys will be released at those dates – something Judge McDermott stressed as he handed down the sentences. 

However, it does mean that the judicial system will be able to review how these two boys have developed in that time frame, how they are dealing with the detention system and how far their rehabilitation has come. Moreover, McDermott prior to sentencing the boys said that there must be a rehabilitative element to their custody. 

Detailed psychological evaluations will also be presented in years to come, detailing the progress of both the convicted.

LUCAN MURDER SCENE 303A3990_90545184 (1) An ambulance leaves with the body Ana Kriegel. Source: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

He said that the sentencing of children for murder in this case needed to satisfy some criteria, namely that the sentence is both punitive but also acts as a deterrent to others. 

McDermott described Ana’s murder as horrific and said that the Kriegel family must always live with the pain of the manner of her death. He said Ana brought the family immense joy and that that joy had been shattered “in the cruelest of manners” by the two convicts.  

Indeed, sentencing of both of the boys was an even more difficult task for McDermott considering the distinct lack of mitigating factors. 

The judge found it difficult to identify any strong reasons for a less severe sentence for Boy A other than his young age. He had pleaded not guilty, putting the Kriegel family through the “heartache” of the trial in which they had to hear details of the sexual assault.

He shows little remorse, Justice McDermott said, and probation services have said he shows limited understanding of what he has done. Boy A described what happened with Ana as a “fight” and said he didn’t intend to kill her or cause her serious injury. Justice McDermott said:

This is difficult to reconcile with the awful violence he inflicted on her when she was unable to defend herself.”

Boy B, he said, deprived himself of a mitigating factor by pleading not guilty. While he acknowledged the boy had shown limited insights into the impact of his actions and shame and regret for his role in the lead-up to her death, he said that is “far from remorse for the murder which he continues to deny”.

While we know how Boy A killed Ana, we still don’t know why. A motive has not presented itself. An Garda Síochána themselves said yesterday afternoon that they had tried to unearth a motive but had been unsuccessful. 

Detective Inspector Mark O’Neill, who headed the investigation, said: “We certainly set out to establish the why – unfortunately that hasn’t been possible so far. I think our job is to gather the evidence and present it to the court and to hope then the court will establish the why. Unfortunately that hasn’t been entirely possible as yet.” 

Despite both boys’ convictions and numerous interviews with psychological staff at Oberstown, there are still glaring inconsistencies in the boys’ accounts of what happened, never mind why it happened.

The inconsistencies

On 14 May 2018, there was a knock on the front door of Ana’s house. It was Boy B. He had told Ana that Boy A wanted to talk to her about something. The two walked towards Glenwood House. CCTV and testimony from people in the park that day showed the two almost laughing and joking as they moved closer to the place Ana would die. 

Judge Paul McDermott said Boy A “exploited” Ana’s infatuation with him and that he abused this position to lure her to Glenwood House where he, dressed in a zombie mask, knee pads and shin pads, bludgeoned her to death and violently sexually assaulted her. The trial had previously heard that Ana had asked Boy A out on a date and that he had rejected her.

Ana Krigal scene 168_90573605 Glenwood House. Source: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

As Boy A choked Ana and threw her to the ground, Boy B said he stood in the door of the room, frozen with fear. There, he looked at one of his best friends beginning to sexually assault a girl he had known for years. According to his testimony, he panicked and fled the house and went home. He didn’t tell his family what happened. 

The court heard yesterday how Boy B still harbours “deep shame” about not helping Ana or not doing something to stop the bloodshed. He still denies he knew that Ana was to come to serious harm when bringing her to Glenwood House. 

In reports taken at Oberstown by healthcare professions since both boys convictions,  Boy A said that he understands that he caused the death of Ana Kriegel. Boy A described how he hit her by describing a “head lock, chokehold, hitting her with a stick and ultimately with a block”. 

We now know that what happened was that Boy A attacked Ana, beat her on the ground and then used a breeze block to repeatedly bludgeon her. 

Boy A does not accept that he sexually assaulted Ana. However, the evidence during the trial showed, and it is something which Justice McDermott emphasised in his hearing yesterday.

There are a number of facts that are still being disputed by both boys: Who decided Boy B was to call for Ana; who decided where they were to meet up at Glenwood House; who brought what to Glenwood House; how Ana’s clothing came to be removed and when; who assaulted Ana and with what; who smashed her phone when it started to ring; who produced the tape and put it on her neck, and; whether or not there was any previous discussion on whether he wanted to kill Ana.  

It was during the sentencing proceedings that we heard more about the boys’ actions in Oberstown detention facility – a place where they will be housed until they are 18, and where these inconsistencies have still emerged. They will then be moved to an adult prison to serve the remainder of their sentencing.

Mental health

Addressing Boy A, McDermott described how he came from a “hard-working, supportive and loving” family. While he acknowledges he caused Ana’s death, the judge said he was not satisfied that he convicted murderer had told officers and staff at Oberstown the “full truth”. 

He detailed how the only psychological condition Boy A had was that of attention deficit disorder, something he said could not be used as a mitigating factor in this case. 

Mental health professionals recommended a high level of intervention for the boy over an extended period but also noted that he showed no anti-social traits and no indication that he is callous or unemotional. There was no evidence of a lack of empathy and he is at “low risk” of violent behaviour, according to his psychiatric assessments.

Aggravating factors in respect of both boys, Justice McDermott said, were the planning of the attack and the fact that Boy A was waiting at the house for Ana with his backpack that included a zombie mask, gloves, knee pads, shin guards and a snood. He said the boys had exploited Ana’s interest in Boy A, as they knew she would go with Boy B if she believed Boy A was interested in her.

4045 Ana Kriegel case_90584146 Patric Kriegal and Geraldine leaving the CCJ in Dublin after the sentencing hearing. Source: Leah Farrell

McDermott continued that Boy A denied sexually assaulting her, claiming instead it was consensual. But the judge pointed again to the evidence, Ana’s clothes were discovered torn and ripped, her bra was damaged and her phone was smashed on the ground, none of these signs of consenting teenagers. 

McDermott said “it was abundantly clear that Ana tried to defend herself” – so much so that Boy A left the derelict house with injuries to his chest, back and face. 

“The attack was prolonged and callous. Her cries could not be heard anyone [except Boy B]. It was extremely humiliating and degrading, the mental terror and physical pain inflicted on her.

“In the aftermath of the killing, he [Boy A] lied, he invented a story that he had been attacked by two young men. He showed no remorse under garda investigation,” the judge added. 

Boy B

Giving is judgement on Boy B, McDermott noted how there was no evidence to suggest he had laid a hand on Ana and that his part in the murder was wholly different to Boy A’s. Boy B had been found guilty of murder based on how he lured Ana to Glenwood House.

Justice McDermott said his family were hard-working, law-abiding people who emphasised the importance of education for their son. The boy is clever and of above average academic ability.

He said the boy did not accept the jury’s verdict that he was guilty of murdering Ana and had said he did not bring Ana to the house knowing that she would be killed. While Boy B showed “a degree of empathy and understanding”, he said it is not clear that he is able to fully process the implications of the offence. 

Like Boy A, McDermott detailed how Boy B had no mental illnesses which would make him more likely to commit such a crime. However, the judge said he had to take into account that the teenager had still not admitted to his guilt, noting it was a serious factor when sentencing. 

The judge noted there were a number of aggravating factors for B’s sentence:

  • Boy A told him one month prior to Ana’s death that he wanted to kill her 
  • He was at the house when the assault was taking place 
  • He was part of a manufactured story given to gardaí in the aftermath of Ana’s disappearance
  • He agreed to bring her to the house under false pretences
  • He knew she trusted what he was saying
  • He embarked on course of deceit. He attempted to cover up his involvement by lying to gardaí 

While he was convicted of murder, Judge McDermott said that he and Boy A’s cases should be treated differently, given that there was no evidence at all to suggest that Boy B laid a hand on Ana. 

There was not much in the way of reaction in the courtroom as the sentences were handed out yesterday. Tears were shed by all three families involved – but they were subdued. As prosecuting counsel Brendan Grehan pointed out in his opening statement all the way back in June of this year, “there are no winners in this”.

“There are three families destroyed.”

With reporting by Eoin Reynolds

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