Wednesday 21 August 2019

Shane Phelan: 'It is extremely important the court has all relevant assistance' before decision

Present in court: Ana Kriegel’s parents Patrick and Geraldine Kriegel at the hearing yesterday. Photo PA
Present in court: Ana Kriegel’s parents Patrick and Geraldine Kriegel at the hearing yesterday. Photo PA
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

After a difficult trial conducted with great care, the same level of attention and consideration is being given to the sentencing process in the Ana Kriegel case.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott provisionally set yesterday as the date for when the two boys found guilty of murdering the 14-year-old schoolgirl were to be sentenced.

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Ana's parents Patric and Geraldine Kriegel were present in court and had prepared victim impact statements.

Boy A and Boy B were also sat in the body of the court with their families, in what was their first appearance since being convicted on June 18.

However, it quickly became clear to those assembled that the hearing would not go ahead. The reason for this was that key reports that could have a bearing on sentencing have yet to be completed.

"It is extremely important the court has all the relevant assistance for sentencing," Mr Justice McDermott said.

Given the length of time it will take to compile the reports and the looming end of the current legal term at the end of the month, it will now be October before Boy A and Boy B learn their fates.

Unlike in adult cases where a mandatory life sentence is handed down for murder, the punishment for the two 14-year-olds will be decided by the judge due to their age.

Under the Children's Act 2001, Mr Justice McDermott had the power to request, in addition to probation officer reports, a variety of other reports to assist him in coming to the appropriate decision. The act says these can include medical, psychiatric and psychological reports.

Yesterday, the court heard while the probation reports were available, none of the parties had seen them yet. Prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan SC said there would be an expectation the prosecution and defence teams would see them in advance of a hearing.

Mr Grehan also said assessments of the two boys being arranged by Professor Harry Kennedy, the clinical director of the Central Mental Hospital, had yet to be carried out.

Mr Justice McDermott later expanded on what would be involved in the assessments.

He said Prof Kennedy had been in contact with the court and wished to proceed with two teams to assess each boy.

Each team will be made up of an adult forensic psychiatrist and a child psychiatrist.

The assistance of psychologists may also be called on, if required.

The judge observed that while there was a requirement under the Children's Act that the justice system deals with child offenders quickly, he also had to be conscious of practicalities.

"The time to be taken is necessary time, dictated by the practicalities in place. The court is entitled to take such time as is appropriate," he said.

In addition to the assessment reports ordered by the court, the judge may also consider a report being commissioned from a psychologist by Boy A's legal team. He has already received reports from Oberstown, where the boys have been kept on remand.

It had been open to Ana's parents to deliver their victim impact statements yesterday, but the court heard they wished to wait until the sentencing hearing.

As the proceedings ended, the judge reminded those present that restrictions continued against identifying the two boys. These applied to any media outlet, including social media, he said.

Irish Independent

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