Thursday 17 October 2019

Ana Kriegel trial: Schoolgirl last seen alive with one of the accused and was 'lured' to farmhouse

Eimear Cotter and Andrew Phelan

A SCHOOL girl whose naked body was found by gardai in a derelict building was last seen alive in the company of one of the accused, a trial has heard.

Anastasia Kriegel died as a result of severe and extensive injuries to her head, prosecutor Brendan Grehan SC told the trial of two boys accused of her murder.

The youths have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms Kriegel at Glenwood House, Laraghcon, Clonee Road in Lucan on May 14 last year.

Known as "Ana", the naked body of the 14-year-old was found at the disused farmhouse three days after she was reported missing.

One of the boys has also denied a charge of aggravated sexual assault.

In his opening address to the jury, prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan SC told the Central Criminal Court this was a trial of "two children accused of the murder of another child".

Ana Kriegel
Ana Kriegel

Mr Grehan then outlined some of the legal principles to the jury, saying the boys enjoyed the presumption of innocence, which was the cornerstone of the Irish legal system.

He said they enjoyed the presumption of innocence throughout the trial, up and until the jury room. The accused only lose that presumption when the jury, based on the evidence, decide if they are guilty or not.

Mr Grehan said the prosecution must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the burden of proof always rests with the prosecution. There is no burden on the defence to prove the accused are not guilty, he said.

Mr Grehan said that at 1pm on May 17 gardai, who had been looking for Ana, searched a derelict building where they found her body.

She was naked, except for her socks, and there was a ligature or tie around her neck.

Mr Grehan said Ana had obvious head injuries, the scene was bloody and blood was splattered around the room, which was a small room, about the size of the jury box.

The jury was told that Ana's broken phone was in the room along with her clothes, and there was some suggestion her clothes had been forcibly removed.

He said gardai commenced a full murder investigation, and Professor Marie Cassidy conducted a post-mortem, which found that Ana suffered severe and extensive injuries to her head and neck, which caused her death.

Prof Cassidy also found that there had been attempted penetration of her vagina, and that there had been a struggle.

Mr Grehan said it is alleged that Ana was last seen in the company of Boy B.

Ana found her teenage years difficult, and was the object of some bullying, Mr Grehan continued.

She had difficulty settling into her new school, and she dressed and acted differently to other teenagers her age.

Ana engaged in behaviour which might best be described as attention-seeking behaviour, and wanted to be noticed.

Mr Grehan said Ana was attending counselling, and she had attended a session the day she disappeared.

The jury was told that Ana "craved friends and friendship" and this left her "vulnerable" and "an easy mark" to someone who wanted to take advantage of her.

Court

One of the two boys accused of murdering teenager Ana Kriegel "lured" her to a derelict farmhouse then watched "voyeuristically" as the other sexually assaulted and murdered her, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Investigating gardaí found a zombie mask, shin guards, knee pads and gloves in a backpack worn by the boy who allegedly carried out the attack, the prosecution maintained.

Brendan Grehan SC was delivering his opening speech to the jury this afternoon.

Ana had been reported missing four days earlier, at 9pm on May 14, by her mother and father, Mr Grehan said as he continued to deliver his opening speech.

It was regular occurrence for people to go missing but barring some suggestion of foul play, it was relatively rare for a criminal act to be the cause, Mr Grehan said.

Ana was last seen by members of her family at around 5pm that day, when she left home as a result of a visit by Boy B. She left in his company and was last seen arriving at a public park with him.

Her mother on her way home from work tried unsuccessfully to contact her on her phone and it was "most unusual" for Ana not to respond to calls or texts from her mother.

When her mother arrived home some time after 5.20pm, she became aware that her daughter had left with Boy B.

She was concerned as this was also not considered normal for Ana, and the boy was someone who had not visited the house before.

She was worried and tried to make further contact with Ana, then went to the park to see if she could see her - this was around three quarters of an hour after she disappeared.

"It is the prosecution’s case that Ana was already dead at this stage," Mr Grehan said.

Having failed to find Ana, her family made various attempts to locate her before going to Lucan Garda Station just after 9pm.

The gardai responded immediately and ascertained Boy B’s address, which was not known to the Kriegels.

They arrived there after 10pm and spoke to Boy B and his mother. The boy gave the first of many different accounts, telling them he called to Ana and they went to the park where he last saw her.

Significantly, he did not mention his friend, Boy A, Mr Grehan continued.

Gardaí continued to make enquiries and followed up on potential sightings of Ana over the next couple of days and the search intensified.

Gardaí interviewed Boy B again and at that stage he said he had called to Ana on behalf of his friend Boy A.

Boy B said they both met her at the park and told gardaí he knew Ana was interested in Boy A. He said the suggested purpose of meeting was so Boy A could tell Ana he was not interested in her.

There was no suggestion by Boy B that Ana was told this, but that she was told Boy A wanted to meet her.

Boy B claimed that after a short conversation in the park between Ana and Boy A, she went one way and the boys went the other and separated, leaving the park.

When contacted, Boy A had a "somewhat different" account, saying he met them in the park, but he did not say there was an arrangement.

When asked when and where they met Ana, divergences began to emerge in what they said, Mr Grehan said.

Beyond the fact that she was missing and not answering her phone, there was no other suggestion of foul play at that stage. CCTV was sought and obtained and Ana was seen on it with Boy B, heading towards the park.

There was less clear footage of inside the park. Through mobile phone providers, gardai managed to "ping" the last activity on Ana’s phone. This pinged in the "general area" at 5.32pm.

A number of people gave accounts of seeing Boy A limping with blood on his face and clothing not long after 5.32pm.

Boy A told a friend whose house he called to, and his parents, that he had been attacked in the park by two older men who he had fought off.

He repeated this account to gardaí and a park ranger and made a statement including references to having seen Ana in the park and that he was mugged a short time after.

"It is the prosecution’s case that (Boy A)l came by these injuries in a struggle with Ana in which he sexually assaulted and killed her and this was a made up story," Mr Grehan said.

Boy A relied on what the prosecution would say were lies about where he last saw Ana.

There was a "compelling" forensic case based on "subjective scientific evidence" by way of DNA, Mr Grehan said.

It was alleged Boy A was connected to the scene by male DNA found on Ana’s neck and on the tape used as a ligature on her neck, as well as semen found on her top located in the same room.

Various items were found in Boy A’s home that were connected to him and also connected to the alleged murder.

This included the contents of a distinctive backpack he was seen carrying in the park containing "gloves, kneepads, shin guards and perhaps most chillingly, a zombie-type mask."

"There is no explanation consistent with innocence to explain these objective scientific facts," Mr Grehan told the jury.

The prosecution’s case against Boy B was that he aided and abetted in the murder of Ana by assisting and helping Boy A, knowing what was going to happen.

It would be alleged he did this by luring her from her house to meet Boy A, knowing that she would want to meet him and knowing that meeting him "in some romantic way was not the purpose at all."

It was alleged he knew they were going to meet Boy A in a "dirty, dark, derelict house that he or (Boy A) made sure was empty before entry."

It was alleged he knew preparations had been made and remained, "voyeuristically watching her murder and sexual assault and participating in the cover up afterwards."

The prosecution would say he lied repeatedly.

This afternoon the court heard Boy B called to Ana's house and asked for her.

A witness said Ana was "kind of confused" and asked “are you sure it’s for me?” She came down and was talking to Boy B at the door for less than five minutes, then said she was going out. Her father Patrick Kreigel had been in the back garden and came in and asked where she was going, the court heard.

“She just said she was going outside, she didn’t say where,” a witness said, adding that her father said “don’t be long,” and that she had studies to do.

She said she would not be long and got her coat or top.

Yesterday afternoon, before Mr Justice Paul McDermott, a jury of eight men and four women, was sworn in to hear the trial.

This morning, Judge McDermott told the jury their role was one of "triers of fact" and they were the "judges in the facts of the case".

The judge said the only material the jury was interested in was what they heard in the courtroom, not anywhere else. He told them not to discuss the trial with their friends or family.

Judge McDermott also told the jury to ignore any press coverage, and to avoid researching the case on the internet.

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