Sunday 15 September 2019

Witness saw Ana 'laughing and joking' with Boy B

Two teenage boys deny the murder of schoolgirl Anastasia Kriegel in disused farmhouse, writes Eimear Cotter

A missing person investigation into the disappearance of schoolgirl Ana Kriegel began just over four hours after she was last seen by her family.

Patric and Geraldine Kriegel arrived at Leixlip garda station to report Ana missing at 9.15pm on May 14, 2018.

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They told Garda Conor Muldoon their 14-year-old daughter had been last seen by them at 5pm that day and this was "out of character" for her.

She was not answering her phone and they were concerned.

It is a "regular enough occurrence" for people to come to a garda station to report a relative missing, Gda Muldoon, who took the missing person's report, told the trial of two 14-year-old boys accused of her murder.

Missing person reports are often not made until many hours after a person was last seen, the jury heard. Most of the time, the missing are located safe and well.

Ana's father, Patric Kriegel, told gardai he'd last seen Ana leaving their home in the company of Boy B. Ana was "happy" and gave him a "big smile" when she left. He had forgotten to ask Ana where she was going but he looked out the window and saw she was heading towards the park.

In her evidence, Geraldine Kriegel said Ana wasn't a person who would ignore a text or phone call. Even if Ana was annoyed with her mother, she'd text "I'm not answering you", she remarked.

Mrs Kriegel said she was "immediately concerned" when she returned home about 5.20pm and learned Ana had left the house with Boy B.

Her husband was in the garden. "Where's Ana?" she asked. Patric told her Ana had left the house with Boy B.

"What was he doing with Ana?" she asked her husband. "He has nothing to do with her."

"Nobody called for Ana," because she had "no friends", she said.

She texted Ana "home now". This was about 5.25pm, and she received no answer.

For Ana not to respond sounded alarm bells.

"We were so worried, I texted her 'Answer me now or I'm calling the police'," she said. "I was between feeling like a paranoid mother, overprotective, and then being terrified."

Mrs Kriegel got no answer so went searching for Ana. She then got in her car, and went out looking a second time.

She thought Ana might still be with Boy B, but she "couldn't see her anywhere".

Mrs Kriegel later contacted a friend, a retired detective who knew Ana, and he told her to contact gardai.

By 10.45pm on May 14, gardai were at the home of Boy B, seeking his help in finding Ana.

Gda Muldoon said Boy B told him he'd called to Ana's home about 5pm, and walked with her towards the park. They spoke briefly, then they'd gone in different directions.

The garda thanked Boy B for his help and returned to Leixlip garda station.

Gardai then visited the home of another boy who Ana had been friendly with. He hadn't spoken to her in a month.

Gardai continued to investigate Ana's disappearance. During the early hours of May 15, they patrolled the greater Leixlip area looking for Ana, checking her hangouts, but there was no sign of her.

They contacted local hospitals to see if Ana had been admitted and repeatedly rang her mobile, but there was no ring tone. Gardai also kept in contact with Ana's parents.

Garda Eoghan Kelly said officers sought to 'ping' the last known location of Ana's phone. They organised with Mrs Kriegel to get pictures of Ana, and received permission to make an appeal on Ana's whereabouts in the media.

There were a number of reported sightings of Ana, including one in Dublin Airport. They were investigated by gardai, but proved to be false.

The investigation into Ana's disappearance continued on May 15. Sergeant John Dunne called to Boy B's home that morning, around 8.30am.

Sgt Dunne asked his mother if Boy B would retrace with gardai the route he'd taken with Ana in the park the previous evening. Sgt Dunne walked the route with Boy B, who pointed out where he and Ana had met Boy A.

Boy B showed Sgt Dunne where he'd last seen Ana. He said Ana went one way, and he and Boy A walked off in separate directions.

On the afternoon of May 15, Sgt Dunne called to Boy A's home, and asked if he would help gardai retrace the route Ana walked. Boy B also agreed to walk the route a second time.

By now, Ana had been missing nearly 24 hours.

Sgt Dunne said he, Sgt Aonghus Hussey, Boy B, Boy A and Boy A's father walked the route together. The two boys were leading them.

At one point, the boys took a right turn on a wooded trail and Sgt Dunne asked Boy B if this was correct as he had previously gone left.

"Boy B stopped and he stated he went no further than this," Sgt Dunne said. "I observed Boy A having a glance, a look at him."

Nothing was said, he added, and Boy A denied it.

It was then decided to take witness statements from the boys as there were inconsistencies in their accounts.

Boy B said he'd gone to Ana's home on behalf of Boy A as Boy A wanted to "sort out some relationship issues" with her. He and Ana walked to the park, where they met Boy A. Boy B stayed slightly behind to give them privacy. Boy B said Boy A wanted to be clear to Ana she was "not of interest to him".

Boy B said he went to get water from an outside tap, and saw Ana again as she walked back to where they'd originally come from.

He said "hey", but she didn't really say anything. She looked upset, he said.

Boy B wasn't sure where she went after that, and the last time he saw Ana was in the park about 5.30pm or 5.40pm.

In Boy A's statement, he said he'd arranged to meet Boy B in the park.

He got to the park and Boy B arrived about a minute later. Ana had been with him.

He told Sgt John O'Keeffe: "At one stage Ana said to me, 'I have something to ask you. I was wondering if you wanted to go out with me'."

Boy A was "surprised" as it "came out of nowhere"; however, he had an idea Ana liked him because she'd asked him out previously.

Boy A told Ana he was sorry but he wasn't interested in her.

He claimed she said nothing and "stormed off".

"I could tell she wasn't happy. She looked annoyed and sad at the same time."

Boy A said his friend left the park. Boy A then described, in detail, how he was assaulted by two older teenagers, who had grabbed him by the shoulder, pulled him to the ground and kicked him.

In cross-examination, Sgt O'Keeffe said it was "not unimaginable" the two accused would remember different things, as they were only 13 at the time.

A dog walker thought one of the boys accused of murdering Ana Kriegel looked "rough" when he saw him in the park.

The witness told the Central Criminal Court that he first spotted a young lad from a distance, who appeared to be "walking with a funny gait".

When the boy got closer he realised it was Boy A, who he knew. He said Boy A "looked like he'd been hit or something".

The witness said he was concerned for Boy A, possibly that he'd been attacked. The witness asked Boy A if he was OK and he said he was.

Boy A "looked in rough shape", he said, and there appeared to be something that could be blood on his T-shirt.

The witness said Boy A told him he took a fall and hit his knee.

Boy A also seemed "embarrassed" and the witness felt someone had bullied him, and he just wanted to go home.

Earlier, a girl who saw Ana Kriegel in the park with Boy B said they were "laughing and talking" and "they seemed to be having a good time".

The girl gave evidence to the Central Criminal Court that she was out walking her dog when she saw Ana with Boy B, both of whom she knew.

She said the two were "having a brisk walk", were "laughing and jumping" and seemed to be having a good time.

In cross-examination, the teenager described it as a "sort of skip run".

"Ana seemed happy," she said, "She was laughing along with Boy B. They did a sort of a skip run, like the kind you'd do with your friend."

The boys have denied the murder of Anastasia Kriegel at Glenwood House, Laraghcon, Clonee Road, in Lucan on May 14, 2018. Ana's body was found at the disused farmhouse three days after she was reported missing.

Boy A has also denied a charge of aggravated sexual assault. It is the prosecution case Boy B "lured" Ana to the farmhouse and watched as Boy A sexually assaulted and murdered her.

The trial continues.

Sunday Independent

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