Saturday 24 August 2019

Family of boy convicted of Ana's murder forced into hiding, court hears

Completely innocent teenager is wrongly implicated on social media

Poignant: Flowers are left at the murder scene of Ana Kriegel, inset. Photo: Mark Condren
Poignant: Flowers are left at the murder scene of Ana Kriegel, inset. Photo: Mark Condren
Eimear Cotter

Eimear Cotter

The family of a boy found guilty of murdering schoolgirl Ana Kriegel has been forced into hiding after he was identified in material published online, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

The online publication of photographs and material identifying the two teenagers was a "matter of the safety of both families", a lawyer said.

An entirely innocent teenager had also been wrongly implicated on social media as one of the boys, a lawyer for a school said.

Barrister Shelley Horan BL said that there were allegations being made about other children. A staff member was also wrongly targeted on social media, she said.

Two 14-year-old boys, known as Boy A and Boy B, were found guilty on Tuesday by a jury before the Central Criminal Court of the murder of Ana at a derelict farmhouse in Lucan on May 14 last year.

Boy A was also found guilty of a charge of aggravated sexual assault.

It was the State's case that Boy B "lured" Ana to the abandoned house and watched as the other boy sexually assaulted and murdered her.

During proceedings yesterday, Boy B's lawyer, Damien Colgan, SC, told the court that following the online publication of material after the verdict Boy B's family had been forced into hiding.

Mr Colgan said he had been asked to attend court by Boy B's family.

He said the family wanted the court to know that they had been forced into hiding.

Mr Colgan also said a reporter from a tabloid newspaper had called to the home of Boy B on Wednesday looking to interview the family.

Ms Horan, for a school associated with the case, said the school had been monitoring social media.

Ms Horan said the school had already handed over material to the DPP.

She said there was concern that an entirely innocent teenager had been wrongly implicated on social media as one of the boys, and a staff member had also been targeted online.

Andrew McKeown BL, representing Boy A, said that threats had been made online against both boys, their families and communities.

He said one user had given an "image of the fate the user thought needed to be meted out to the two boys".

He said there are concerns for the safety of both families and pointed to a tweet which said: "There's information on the families online if you Google their names."

The two boys and a school were not parties to the matter before the court. It was an application by the DPP to continue orders made on Wednesday against Facebook and Twitter directing them to remove any material tending to identify the boys from their social media platforms.

Mr Justice Michael White adjourned the matter for two weeks, and the interim injunction will remain in place until then.

The judge said he accepted the bona fides of Facebook and Twitter and they had acted in good faith in how they had dealt with this matter.

Judge White said the trial of the two boys was "unique and sensitive" and special arrangements had been put in place by the Courts Service prior to the trial.

He said a concern from the start had been that "some idiots on social media" would breach the orders of the court and "now that has come to pass".

The judge said he was shocked to hear a child had been wrongfully identified on social media as one of the boys, adding that this should send "shock waves" to the people posting online about the trial.

Justice White said gardaí should "pursue with vigour" anyone who posts anything identifying them on social media.

Meanwhile, the Irish Independent understands that detectives are investigating the posting of images online.

It is understood that no formal complaint has yet been made to gardaí by either the parents of the two 14-year-olds, or their legal representatives.

Sources said the initial stages of the investigation into the posting of images will be run by detectives in Lucan.

However, this is expected to widen to include specialist gardaí attached to national units such as the Garda Cyber Crime Unit and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation. It will be examined if images were uploaded, or shared, by people across the country.

Irish Independent

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