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'Unprecedented' and 'innovative': Senior gardaí praise huge commitment given during Ana Kriegel investigation

Two boys were sentenced today for the murder of 14-year-old Ana Kriegel.

Superintendent John Gordon (M) with Detective inspector Mark O Neill and Chief superintendent Lorraine Wheatley speaking today.
Superintendent John Gordon (M) with Detective inspector Mark O Neill and Chief superintendent Lorraine Wheatley speaking today.
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

THE GARDA INVESTIGATION into the murder of 14-year-old schoolgirl Ana Kriegel relied on “unprecedented” and “innovative” arrangements, senior gardaí have said today, following this afternoon’s sentencing of two boys convicted of her murder.

From the initial investigation into Ana’s disappearance on 14 May 2018 up to the jury’s verdict in June, “huge commitment” was required from gardaí, Detective Inspector Mark O’Neill said this afternoon. 

Ana’s disappearance looked like a missing persons’ case similar to so many others dealt with by gardaí, where parents would arrive into a station to report their child missing only for them to turn up a few hours later. 

Speaking today, however, Superintendent John Gordon said special arrangements were put in place by gardaí almost immediately. 

Within 18 hours of Ana Kriegel going missing, said Gordon, gardaí from Lucan and Leixlip were working in conjunction with each other, given the level of concern for Ana. 

“We brought in the divisional search team, we brought in the garda water unit, we also brought in the Civil Defence,” said Gordon. 

Gordon also altered the Senior Investigating Officers Programme (SIO) to the teenager’s disappearance, he said. 

Investigating gardaí knew that Boy B had called for Ana at around 5pm on the day of her disappearance. Officers had their first port of call. 

Garda Conor Muldoon arrived at the home of Boy B at 10.45pm on 14 May 2018 – just hours after the 14-year-old girl had been reported missing.

During the trial, the court heard that Boy B stood inside the door behind his mother during that first conversation with officers. He confirmed he knew Ana and had last seen her earlier in the afternoon. He did not mention Boy A.

The next morning, Sergeant John Dunne called to the home of Boy B. He wanted to know the route Boy B had taken with Ana the previous evening. It was during this meeting that Boy B mentioned to officers that Boy A was also present. 

Sergeant Dunne asked Boy B to show him the path he had taken through the park on the day of Ana’s disappearance. 

By this stage, dozens of gardaí, from rank and file members to chief superintendents, were involved in what eventually became a murder investigation.

‘CCTV’ 

Over the course of the investigation into Ana Kriegel’s murder, gardaí followed up over 500 lines of inquiry and took 500 statements, Gordon said today. 

More than 250 exhibits were received and 700 hours of CCTV footage was examined.

The CCTV footage was harvested from a number of cameras in the local park, as well as cameras attached to housing estates nearby.

Trawling through the CCTV, gardaí identified a number of key moments: 

  • At 4.51pm, Boy B is seen walking in direction of where Ana lived.
  • At 5.01pm, we see Boy B and Ana walking together – Boy B is some yards ahead of her.
  • At 5.05pm: Boy A is seen wearing gloves and carrying a backpack through park land.
  • At 5.14pm: Boy B and Ana seen walking across a field.
  • At 5.49pm: Boy B seen walking back across park on his own.
  • At 5.56pm: Boy B walking through park.
  • At 5.57pm: Boy A seen holding a bag in their left hand.
  • At 6.03pm: Boy A seen limping through park

“All of that work necessitated huge commitment from the investigation team,” Inspector O’Neill, speaking at Kevin St Garda Station, said today. 

Elevated‘ 

Investigating Gardaí wanted Boy A and Boy B to clarify which route they had taken with Ana to the abandoned house where her body was later found, and asked them both to give voluntary interviews. These were conducted separately. 

In each case, gardaí produced maps and asked each boy to indicate where they met in the park, which way they walked and when the last time they saw Ana was.

The accounts did not match. They were informed of this but both stuck to their different stories. 

On 17 May, four garda members were searching derelict buildings when an officer called for Sergeant Birchall as he may have found something. 

Garda Sean White was part of the four-garda team which discovered Ana’s body. He was the first to go in to the house where he saw what he thought to be a mannequin.

Garda White told the court he said to Sergeant Birchall that it’s “either a mannequin or something terrible”.

The sergeant entered the house with a colleague and searched a number of rooms which were empty. The court heard that the house was in very poor condition and there was debris in many of the rooms. Some of the roofing had collapsed in places, he said.

Sergeant Birchall said after searching a number of rooms, he then saw a naked body in the house. 

One important aspect of the gardaí investigation was the forensic evidence found at the abandoned house where Ana Kriegel’s body was discovered, said O’Neill today. 

Investigating gardaí were assisted by Mr John Hoade, a specialist in blood-pattern analysis.

In order to present evidence recovered from the scene in a way that could be contextualised for a jury, gardaí used an independent UK forensic company specialising in 3D reconstruction. 

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

As the investigation progressed, gardaí obtained search warrants to search the homes of Boy A and Boy B after Ana’s body was discovered. 

For the gardaí involved in this case, this was not the first time they had dealt with interviewing minors. However, the children were usually either victims of crime or witnesses to an incident. Even for senior gardaí, this was the first time they would be involved in a case where two 13-year-old boys were the suspects in a murder of this type.

Once Boy A and Boy B became prime suspects in the case, gardaí special arrangements “really were elevated”, said Gordon.

During initial searches of Boy A and Boy B’s family homes, gardaí used unmarked rental cars. 

Standard evidence bags were not used, either. Gardaí instead used black bin bags “to preserve the anonymity” of Boy A and Boy B and their families. 

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Following Boy A and Boy B’s arrests in May 2018, Blanchardstown and Clondalkin Garda Stations were both cleared of all other prisoners and made available to investigating gardaí. Boy A and Boy B were detained at these stations. 

‘Supreme Importance’

Ultimately, both Boy A and Boy B were found guilty of the murder of Ana Kriegel. Boy A was also found guilty of aggravated sexual assault.

The jury spent over 14 hours coming to their unanimous decision. 

The trial, which relied on the concerted work of dozens of garda officers, technical bureau staff and forensic scientists, lasted eight weeks. 

Earlier today, Boy A was sentenced to a term of life on the first count of murder and will serve an initial 12 years, followed by a review. The sentence may be extended after the first 12 years served. 

Boy A was also convicted of aggravated sexual assault. A term of 12 years was also imposed for that count today, to be served concurrently. 

Boy B is to serve a term of 15 years, with the sentence to be reviewed after 8 years, the judge said. 

Both boys, known as Boy A and Boy B because their real identities cannot be disclosed, were 13 years of age when they murdered Ana Kriegel in an abandoned house in Lucan on 14 May 2018.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said that Ana Kriegel’s life was and is of “supreme importance” and her short life should not be defined by the crimes committed against her.

With reporting from Garreth MacNamee. 

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