Sunday 25 August 2019

'My brain slipped' - reporter who named Boy A

Ana Kriegel
Ana Kriegel
Apology: ‘Irish Mirror’ crime journalist Niall O’Connor
Eimear Cotter

Eimear Cotter

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

'Irish Daily Mirror' crime editor Niall O'Connor was fined €2,500 after admitting "inadvertently" naming the boy.

The broadcaster of the 'Neil Prendeville Show' on Cork's RedFM was fined €10,000.

Yesterday Mr 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, saying he 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 under the Children Act 2001 due to their age and due to orders made by Mr Justice Paul McDermott during the trial. They have only been referred to in media as Boy A and Boy B.

Judge McDermott said he was satisfied what happened was an error, and not an intentional breach of the court's orders and the law.

However, he said it was a "serious error, involving a lapse of professional standards" and required a sanction.

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 the morning of June 19, the day after the jury's verdicts.

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

Mr 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 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".

The audio was played to the court.

Mr O'Connor's solicitor Mr 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.

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 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 month 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.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News