Sunday 18 August 2019

Her mother kissed Ana goodbye, not knowing it would be for the last time

The Kriegels

Ana Kriegel (Photo: RTE)
Ana Kriegel (Photo: RTE)
Patric and Geraldine Kriegel. Picture: Collins
Ana Kriegel
Eimear Cotter

Eimear Cotter

Ana's parents Patric and Geraldine Kriegel marked the first anniversary of their daughter's passing in the middle of the trial.

The events of that fateful day must still be fresh in the minds of Ana's parents.

Patric and Geraldine attended every day of the trial - including the days of legal argument in the absence of the jury.

They have been supported by family and friends, as well as a representative from the Victim Support Service, who has sat with them and guided them through proceedings.

Boy A's lawyer, Patrick Gageby SC, in his closing speech, remarked on the "enormous grace" the couple had shown during the trial.

Mr Gageby said the death of a child is every parent's worst nightmare, particularly when death is sudden, unforeseen and violent.

By and large, the Kriegels remained calm, stoic and in control.

They've broken down crying a number of times. They found the evidence of pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy particularly difficult to hear. During a break in Prof Cassidy's evidence, Ms Kriegel's heart-wrenching sobs could be heard throughout the courtroom.

Both of them gave evidence in the trial.

Mr Kriegel told the court he was from Paris, and had been a lecturer in French at DIT before retiring and becoming a homemaker.

Ms Kriegel worked in CIÉ, the court heard.

It is clear the couple had built a very happy home - again Mr Gageby remarked upon that - and Mr Kriegel said Ana often told him and her mother that she never wanted to leave it.

Ana and her mother were clearly close, and even though she didn't like mornings, the schoolgirl liked her mother to wake her up before she went to work.

Ms Kriegel kissed Ana goodbye on the day she disappeared - little knowing it would be the last time she'd see her daughter alive.

Her mother gave evidence that she was immediately worried about Ana when she didn't answer her phone or respond to texts on that day.

With a soft smile on her face, Ms Kriegel said it was unusual for her daughter not to answer her phone, saying Ana was the type who, if she was annoyed with her, she'd respond to a text, saying: "I'm not answering you."

Ana was unique and "full of fun", Mr Kriegel said.

She loved dancing, and spent hours in the family's front room "listening to music, dancing, practising her moves and singing".

She was tall and strong, looked older than her years and "could pass for an 18-year-old".

She could also "swim like nobody I've ever seen".

However, a teacher in her primary school had previously expressed concern to Ms Kriegel that Ana was "so vulnerable and innocent in her manner" that others may tease her or make a mockery of her.

Ana was very happy at home with her family, but she "craved" friendship, and wanted a best friend her own age, her mother said.

Unfortunately, it just didn't seem to happen for her.

She had self-harmed after she was suspended from school and she had attended counselling, but her counsellor had no concerns for her. However, the family was advised to bring and collect Ana from school as she was "so terrified of the bullies".

Mr Kriegel said Ana could not hate anyone - even though some of the people concerned were bullying her.

After the jury returned its guilty verdicts in the trial of Boy A and Boy B, it can only be hoped that the Kriegel family can finally mourn the loss of Ana.

It should be noted that - in the midst of their grief last year - the Kriegels asked mourners that donations be made to the Russian Irish Adoption Group (RIAG).

Through those donations, the RIAG was able to set up a website, so members and others have a resource and a network available. The RIAG has also set up a network for Russian Irish teenagers.

It's called ANA (Ana's Network of Adolescents) and it seems like a fitting tribute to the teenage girl who was described during her memorial service as being "caring, kind, strong-willed" and "sometimes cheeky".

Irish Independent

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