Thursday 21 November 2019

Editorial: 'We owe it to Ana to learn from this senseless tragedy'

'Ana was robbed of the chance to complete her life or comprehend its ending'
'Ana was robbed of the chance to complete her life or comprehend its ending'


Writers will tell you stories are like children; they grow up in their own way.

Ana Kriegel was a child who never got to grow up. She never set out to become a story; certainly not one whose lurid details would make for the stuff of nightmares.

Yesterday two children were sentenced, having been found guilty of her murder, marking them the youngest such convictions in legal history here.

Her parents remember a different narrative.

It was one of a daughter who was "the most wonderful child in the world".

"Wild and wonderful, electric, so full of fun and madness and laughter," was how her mother recalled her. Tragically the story of the love of their lives had an unnaturally premature and chilling ending. In the incomprehensible darkness surrounding this case it is all too easy to lose sight of the terrified young girl trapped at its centre.

Even after the extensive psychological evaluations, and exhaustive investigative work, yesterday the court heard detectives have still not established a motive for the murder. The levels of brutality, conspiracy and deceit exposed in this case are not supposed to exist in the minds of children. And yet they did, though neither had any mental illness. Mr Justice Paul McDermott has done all he can. One boy has been sentenced to life with a review period after 12 years for her murder. Another was sentenced to 15 years, with a review after eight.

He told both boys they will have to serve long periods but will one day have a chance to return to their families.

Ana's parents said "justice has been served for Ana" but for them "forever is not long enough".

The searching questions and issues raised by Ana's murder go beyond the courts.

Society as a whole has been challenged to understand how could two normal children plummet to such swirling depths of evil?

The why and the how of such an unnatural thing as the murder of a young girl by two young boys, for no reason, defies reason.

Indeed Judge McDermott noted there is little guidance for the sentencing of children for murder because "thankfully" so few cases have come before the courts.

We would hope this case is an aberration, but we can't count on it.

We owe it to Ana Kriegel to take a hard look at the full, horrible picture painted by the circumstances of her murder.

The forensic analysis of blood patterns and other macabre scientific details are all too vividly evident.

Yet at a human level we are at a complete loss. So it is profoundly important to keep asking ourselves how and why such things happen.

Ana was robbed of the chance to complete her life or comprehend its ending.

Her murder violated all social norms.

Unless we face such motivations and try to understand what drives them, how can we hope to contain them?

Irish Independent

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