Monday 15 July 2019

Pornographic images and so-called 'murder kit': What the Ana Kriegel trial jury didn't hear

Ana Kriegel (Photo: RTE)
Ana Kriegel (Photo: RTE)
Eimear Cotter

Eimear Cotter

MORE THAN 12,000 images - the vast majority pornographic - were found on two mobile phones belonging to Boy A after detectives searched his home.

Among the online searches on the convicted killer’s phones were "child porn", "animal porn", "horse porn" and "dark web".

The court also heard that two URLs brought users to a website featuring pornographic videos, which had the titles "Cute Teens F***ed hard" and "Anastasia has the perfect body for f***ing".

The material had been accessed up to nine months before Boy A murdered Ana - and some of it before he knew her.

Defence lawyer Patrick Gageby SC, for Boy A, argued that "context was utterly absent".

The jury was never told about the pornographic images as Mr Justice Paul McDermott ruled they could not be produced in evidence, saying that "relevance" was lacking.

The judge said the small number of images, which the prosecution wished to introduce, was part of a larger body of material.

In order to establish the context or lack of context it would be necessary to introduce the entirety of the material, he said. However, he said this would be highly prejudicial to the accused’s right to a fair trial because of the extensive nature of the material.

Ana Kriegel (Photo: RTE)
Ana Kriegel (Photo: RTE)

Judge McDermott said the jury had ample evidence of the acts allegedly being perpetuated to give them a complete understanding of the case. He said he was not satisfied the material would add to that and it certainly wouldn’t do so in a "cogent way".

Legal argument in a criminal trial such as this is common in Ireland. A judge hears submissions from both legal teams about whether certain evidence should be put before a jury

In any ruling, a judge will weigh up factors such as whether the contested evidence is sufficiently relevant to the charges or if its prejudicial effect on the jury would outweigh its probative value. In the absence of the jury in this case, prosecutor Brendan Grehan SC said two phones were seized by gardai when they searched Boy A’s home on May 24, 2018.

When the phones were analysed by garda technical experts, one of the phones had 5,001 images, the "vast majority" of which were pornographic.

Ana Kriegel
Ana Kriegel

Mr Grehan said some of the images were "violent" and the prosecution was particularly interested in 10 images.

These images were described as an image of a female with her wrists bound to a post behind her, another of a naked female with her arms and legs bound by rope to a bench, a third was of a man squeezing the throat of a partially naked woman while a fourth image was an image of a man and woman, in which she was wearing a school uniform and was exposed from the waist down.

Ana Kriegel (Photo: RTE)
Ana Kriegel (Photo: RTE)

Mr Grehan said that search words on this phone included "child porn", "animal porn", "horse porn" and "dark web" and these searches dated back to November 2017.

The court heard that two URLs brought users to a website featuring pornographic videos, which had the titles ‘Cute Teens F***ed hard’ and “Anastasia has the perfect body for f***ing”.

Mr Grehan said a total of 7,485 images were found on an Apple iPhone belonging to Boy A. Of these images, the vast majority were pornographic, both in animated and hentai form.

Gardai identified 42 images on that phone which were considered relevant to their investigation.

Boy A had also searched "abandoned places in Lucan" in January 2018 and the park where Ana was found, on May 21, 2018, four days after gardai located her body. Mr Grehan said he was not making an argument that any porn should be shown to the jury.

Ana Kriegel (Photo: RTE)
Ana Kriegel (Photo: RTE)

Objecting to the material, Mr Gageby said some of it dated back to 2017, and it had to be considered if the material was relevant or necessary. His submission, he said, was that it was neither.

Mr Gageby said there was a large cache of porn, which may or may not have been viewed, and the prosecution had "mined the material to find anything that had a casual connection" to the charges before the court. Again he said context was "utterly absent".

Mr Gageby also said it was unclear if the material had been searched for or was something that was found when searching for something else.

In rejecting the evidence, Judge McDermott said the material was too distant in time to the offence and the probative value was outweighed by the prejudicial value and it could give the jury an unbalanced view of the case. 

Separately, a video of a boy, which gardai claimed was Boy B, hitting a homemade weapon off a concrete block and then inspecting the damage was also deemed inadmissible as evidence.

Mr Grehan alleged the video had been taken by Boy A in a back garden in September 2017. He said it showed the boys interacting together and engaging in one of their hobbies.

Judge McDermott said he did not see any relevance at all for the video, saying the prosecution was attempting to include an "inference which is not justified". 

Part of Boy B’s eighth, and final interview, was edited from the video shown to jurors.

In the deleted part, Detective Garda Donal Daly put it to the teenager that May 14 - the day Ana was killed - held special significance on the satanic calendar and May 14, 2021 was doomsday.

Boy B responded: "Really?" and "I didn’t know that".

Boy B had earlier mentioned a copybook which gardai found in his house. It contained a picture of a "satanic pledge". Boy B told gardai he called it a "Satanist cult" but it was really a homework club.

Cross examined by Boy B’s lawyer, Damien Colgan SC, Gda Daly accepted Boy B told him he wasn’t aware of the satanic calendar, nor was there any evidence that he’d gone online to find information on it. 

Judge McDermott also ruled this part of the interview was inadmissible, saying it was "not evidence at all".

A mannequin wearing Boy A’s clothing and his so-called “murder kit” complete with “zombie mask” was not shown to the jury, after a judge ruled it was inadmissible.

The mannequin had been dressed and then photographed by John Hoade, a DNA and blood pattern specialist at Forensic Science Ireland.

Three photographs of the mannequin were shown to the court, in the absence of the jury.

Mr Holde dressed the mannequin in Boy A’s black hoodie top, white t-shirt, black boots and grey/black bottoms.

The clothes had been given by Boy A’s parents to gardai, as they were investigating an alleged attack on Boy A by two men in the park on the same day Ana went missing.

Mr Hoade placed the hood of the hoodie top over the mannequin’s head.

He also dressed the mannequin with a pair of black gloves, a black snood, knee pads and a mask.

These items were found in a backpack in Boy A’s bedroom after his home was searched by gardai. 

During his evidence to the jury, Mr Hoade had described the mask as a “half mask” which had a hole for the eyes and nose and stopped at the mouth where there was a jagged area. 

It had what appeared to be “simulated blood” around the mouth and there was an elastic band so it could be secured.

Boy B told gardai, during interviews, he called it the “zombie mask” because that’s what Boy A called it, and it was “really cool”.

Prosecutor Brendan Grehan SC claimed the mannequin accurately portrayed how Boy A looked in the derelict farmhouse.

He argued the mannequin was not introducing any new evidence, and was merely a “visual aid” to the jury as to how they would have been worn.

Defence counsel Patrick Gageby SC said the image was “very arresting” and “inflammatory”, however, there was no evidence the image portrayed accurately what was worn at the time of the fatal event.

Mr Gageby said there was no evidence the snood or hoodie jacket was worn, or that the hood was up.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott ruled the photographs of the mannequin were inadmissible as evidence. He said that whatever limited probative value it had was outweighed by the disproportionate prejudicial effects.  

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