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Explainer: Why the boys found guilty of Ana Kriegel's murder cannot be named

Despite the fact that the two boys have been convicted, they still cannot be publicly named even after sentencing.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

TWO BOYS HAVE have been found guilty of the murder of 14-year-old Ana Kriegel in May last year. 

Boy A and Boy B, as they have been referred to over the course of this eight week trial, were both 13 when Ana Kriegel’s body was found in an abandoned house on the Lucan/Leixlip border.

Boy A was today found guilty of murder and aggravated sexual assault. Boy B was found guilty of murder. 

Although this trial took place at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin, where adult cases are heard, Children’s Court rules still applied due to the ages of the boys. 

Throughout the trial, neither of the boys were named in media coverage and there were strict reporting rules to prevent them being identified. These restrictions meant, for example, journalists reporting on the trial could not name the school the boys went to.

Despite the fact that the two boys have been convicted, they still cannot be publicly named even after sentencing – and it is an offence to do so. 

Protection for young offenders

Under Irish law, a child over the age of ten can be charged with more serious offences such as murder, manslaughter, rape and aggravated sexual assault. 

According to Courts Service directions, the trial process should not itself expose young defendants to “avoidable intimidation, humiliation or distress”.

“Young defendants accused of committing serious crimes may be vulnerable due to their age, level of maturity or disability when standing trial in the children’s court.” 

For these reasons, and because Irish and European laws dictate it, the ordinary trial processes in relation to children are adapted to ensure due regard to the welfare of the young defendant. 

This is why members of the public were excluded from this trial. Only officers of the court, relatives of the children involved, witnesses and members of the press were permitted to sit in the courtroom to hear the evidence.

Under the Children’s Act 2001 (amended by the Criminal Justice Act 2006), no report can be published or included in a broadcast which reveals the name, address or school of any child concerned in the proceedings.

News reports also cannot include any particulars likely to lead to the identification of any child concerned. 

No photographs of young defendants can be published, or images that would lead to them being identified – like that of a family member, for example. 

The legislation applies to matters published or included in a broadcast or other form of public communication, including social media posts. 

Penalties

Anyone found to have identified a young offender, contrary to this legislation, could be liable on summary conviction to a fine of £1,500 or a prison term of up to 12 months, or both. 

If the breach is considered more serious, on conviction on indictment a person could face a fine of up to €10,000 and/or up to three years in prison. 

There are rare exceptions to this law, such as:

  • If a court decides it is appropriate to identify the child for the purpose of avoiding injustice to them;
  • If the young person is unlawfully at large and it is necessary to name them for the purpose of apprehending them;
  • To comply with a court order;
  • If the court it satisfied it is necessary to dispense with requirements in the public interest.

In adult cases in which a defendant cannot be named (like a sexual assault case), this anonymity can be lifted if an application is made to and granted by the judge after conviction.

However in cases with a defendant who is a child – like the Ana Kriegel trial – the restriction on identifying them remains after conviction, sentencing and even after they turn 18.

“Children are seen in the law as being deserving of more protection than an adult,” one legal expert told TheJournal.ie.

“The judicial comments on that have been that anonymity applies beyond the 18 years as well – a lifetime protection really, is the way judges described it in the past.

“Perhaps the thinking is that because they were a child when they were convicted they are entitled to be treated differently to someone who was an adult when they committed a crime and were convicted.”

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