Friday 23 August 2019

Journalist fined €2,500 after twice naming one of the boys convicted of Ana Kriegel murder on Cork radio show

Ana Kriegel
Ana Kriegel
Eimear Cotter

Eimear Cotter

A JOURNALIST who twice named one of the boys convicted of the murder of schoolgirl Ana Kriegel on a Cork radio show described what happened as "my brain just slipped".

'Irish Daily Mirror' journalist and crime editor Niall O'Connor was fined €2,500 after he admitted to contempt of court.

The broadcaster of the Neil Prenderville Show on Cork's RedFM, where Mr O'Connor named Boy A, has also been fined €10,000.

This morning, journalist Niall O'Connor apologised unreservedly and absolutely for what he described as a "complete mistake".

Mr O'Connor, a former garda, said he was "truly sorry" and he in no way intended to say the boy's name.

His solicitor Simon McAleese told the court that Mr O'Connor had described what had happened as "my brain just slipped".

Diarmuid O'Leary, CEO of RedFM, also apologised to the court and to Boy A's family, saying he apologised and regretted unreservedly what had happened.

He said a "dump button" facility, or seven second delay, had been introduced on the show since this had occurred.

The teenagers cannot be identified because they are children under the Children Act 2001 and due to orders made by Mr Justice Paul McDermott during the trial. They have only been referred to in the media as Boy A and Boy B.

Judge McDermott said he accepted and was satisfied that Mr O'Connor had made an error, which was a "serious error, involving a lapse of professional standards".

Judge McDermott said the matter did require a sanction, and he fined Mr O'Connor €2,500. The judge fined RedFM, the broadcaster of the show, €10,000.

Earlier, Brendan Grehan SC, for the DPP, told the court that Mr O'Connor named one of the boys twice during an interview on the Neil Prendeville show on Cork radio station RedFM on the morning of June 19, the day after the jury's verdicts.

Mr Grehan said the DPP had written to RedFM, and the radio station had co-operated fully and had provided an audio recording of the broadcast.

Mr Grehan said that Diarmuid O'Leary, RedFM's CEO, had told the DPP's office that the broadcast was not available on any of RedFM's platforms, nor would it be re-broadcast.

Mr Grehan said it was clear from listening to the broadcast that steps had been taken not to identify the boys, who were referred to as Boy A and Boy B.

Mr Grehan said that Mr O'Connor had also contacted the DPP's office, and he had apologised unreservedly for what he described as "a terrible error on my part".

In an affidavit, Mr O'Leary apologised for what had occurred, saying it had happened without any intent by RedFM.

He said Neil Prenderville was a journalist with 40 years experience, and Niall O'Connor, who was also an experienced reporter and editor, had been a regular contributor on his show for six years. Both were acutely aware of the restrictions in identifying the two boys.

He said management were immediately informed when the boy was named and steps were taken to ensure the broadcast was not repeated.

Mr O'Leary said a "dump button" facility, or seven second delay, had since been introduced on the Neil Prenderville show.

The audio was then played to the court.

In his address to the court, Mr O'Connor's solicitor Simon McAleese said there was an immediate realisation by both men that a terrible mistake had been made.

Mr McAleese also said Mr O'Connor had not been paid to participate in the broadcast.

He further assured the court that there was no question of any mens rea (intention of wrongdoing) on behalf of Mr O'Connor.

Mr O'Leary also apologised in person, both to the court and to Boy A's family.

In his ruling, Judge McDermott said the parties had co-operated and had entered guilty pleas to contempt. There had also been an apology to Boy A's family, though they might consider this a "cold comfort", he said.

He said a donation to charity was "wholly inappropriate" and he fined Mr O'Connor €2,500 and RedFM €10,000.

Boy A and Boy B were found guilty last mouth of the murder of Ana Kriegel at an abandoned farmhouse in Lucan on May 14, 2018.

Boy A was also convicted of aggravated sexual assault.

The teenagers, who was just 13 years old at the time, had denied the offences.

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