Ana Kriégel was ‘endlessly’ bullied, murder trial told

Jurors told of blood-splattered scene where body was found and of signs of a struggle

Ana Kriégel was found dead in Glenwood House in Lucan in May 2018.

Ana Kriégel was found dead in Glenwood House in Lucan in May 2018.

 

Ana Kriégel was severely and “endlessly” bullied by other children in the period before her alleged murder, her mother has told the Central criminal Court.

Two boys who were 13 at the time, are standing trial for the murder of the 14-year-old schoolgirl from Leixlip.

Boy A has pleaded not guilty to the murder and sexual assault “involving serious violence” of Ms Kriégel on May 14th, 2018, at Glenwood House, Laraghcon, Clonee Road, Lucan, in Dublin.

Boy B has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms Kriégel on the same date.

The accused, who are both aged 14, cannot be identified due to their age. Their trial at the Central Criminal Court is expected to last up to six weeks.

Children cyber-bullied Ana by commenting with death threats on her YouTube account and sending her Snapchat messages mocking her height and the fact she was adopted, the court heard.

Geraldine Kriégel told the jury on the first full day of the trial that she and her husband adopted Ana from Russia when she was two-and-a-half years old.

She told prosecuting counsel Brendan Grehan, SC, Ana loved primary school and was happy “most of the time”. But she started to have a few problems in sixth class as she entered her teenage years.

She also had some health issues including a tumour in her ear that required a five-and-a-half hour operation to remove.

Ana could hardly hear in her right ear and would stand to the right of people to listen to people, her mother said. She also had very poor eyesight.

“She loved dancing. She spent hours in our front room, listening to music, practising her moves, singing, dancing.” As a result her mother got her contact lenses instead of glasses.

Ana was very excited to attend secondary school, but her primary school resource teacher was “terrified”. The teacher felt she would be taken advantage of and mocked because of her innocent nature, her mother said. Ana was “a loner” and “didn’t mix well with others,” she added.

“Other girls would walk in groups but Ana would walk alone.”

‘Nasty comments’

During the summer before secondary school she was cyber-bullied by 3rd year students in the school. They sent her messages involving “sexual innuendo” and saying she had a “fake mam and dad".

Patrick and Geraldine Kriegel, parents of Ana Kriegel, attending court for the trial of two boys accused of their daughter’s murder. Photograph: Collins Courts
Patrick and Geraldine Kriegel, parents of Ana Kriegel, attending court for the trial of two boys accused of their daughter’s murder. Photograph: Collins Courts

Ms Kriégel said her daughter was “extremely” tall for her age, about 5ft 8’; “a typical Siberian.” Some of the messages made fun of her for this. She was also very strong which made her an excellent swimmer.

“She looked much older than her years. She could have passed for an 18 year old,” her mother said.

Ana used various forms of social media and had her own YouTube account to which she would upload videos of her getting ready for school, picking out her clothes and tap dancing.

People would post “nasty comments” on these, her mother said, such as “go die” and “I would have you executed.”

Geraldine Kriégel said she would check her daughter’s phone every night. She said Ana would hand over all her passwords. She wasn’t happy about this but knew her phone would be taken from her if she didn’t.

On one occasion her mother found pictures taken of Ana blindfolded with her hands tied. Ana explained this was a “prank” where she and a friend pretended she was in danger to see if a boy she liked would “rescue her".

Ms Kriégel said Ana had an on-again, off-again friendship with another boy who Ana said was suicidal. At one stage Ana showed her mother pictures the boy sent her purporting to show him cutting himself.

Cut herself

Her mother realised these pictures weren’t of the boy but had been downloaded from the web. Ana later cut herself because she was upset at being suspended from school. Her mother said she believed she was imitating the boy.

Her parents sent her for counselling at which she made good progress. The counsellors had to ask her father to pick Ana up as she was so scared to walk home alone because of the bullying.

On the Halloween before her death, Ana was walking home when four boys approached her. One asked her repeatedly to have sex with him and hit her “on the bum”.

Ana was hysterical when she arrived home, “really, really, really frightened”. Her mother said she had to comfort her for an hour afterwards. They alerted gardaí, and the boy who hit her was cautioned.

Ms Kriégel said her daughter “volunteered for everything” in secondary school. She was in the choir, talent shows and modelled in a fund-raising fashion show organised by transition year students.

She was not academic and struggled with her studies due to her hearing and because she only began learning English after her adoption.

She sometimes got into trouble at school, her mother said. She got into a fight with one girl in January and there were “altercations” with other students.

One day she painted a black eye on herself and went to school. “It was attention seeking. For me it was expression of pain she suffered on the inside because she was endlessly bullied in college.”

Opening the case

Opening the case this morning, Mr Grehan gave an outline of the expected evidence. Both boys were about six months younger than Ana at the time of her death in May 2017.

Gardaí searching for Ana discovered her body in a vacant farm house on May 17th, 2017.

Her body was naked except for socks and there was a “very distinctive” ligature around her neck made from builder’s tape.

The scene was bloody and there were blood splatters. Her clothes, which had signs of being forcibly removed, were scattered around the room. Her phone was also there, broken into two pieces.

Her death was caused by severe head and neck injuries. She also had injuries suggesting attempted penetration of her vagina. The pathologist judged she had been violently sexually assaulted.

There had been a struggle in the room.

Ana had been reported missing three days earlier at 9pm by her parents, Geraldine and Patrick.

“People go missing all the time. It’s rare a criminal act is the cause of someone going missing,” counsel said.

Ana was last seen at 5pm that day when she left her house in the company of Boy B. She was last seen alive in a nearby park with this boy. Her mother later tried unsuccessfully to contact her by phone. It was very unusual for Ana not to respond to calls or texts from her mother.

It was also not normal for her to hang around with Boy B, counsel said.

Her mother began to worry and within a short time, at about 5.45pm, she went looking for her in the nearby park. The prosecution say Ana was already dead at this stage.

The family continued to try find her before reporting the matter to Lucan gardaí just after 9pm that evening.

Search intensified

The gardaí went to Boy B’s address where they spoke to him and his mother. Boy B gave many different accounts to gardaí, counsel said. He first told gardaí he called for Ana earlier, then went to the park where he had last seen her.

“Significantly” he did not mention Boy A, counsel said.

Over the following days the search intensified and gardaí followed up alleged sightings in places such as Dundrum and Dublin Airport.

Boy B then told gardaí he called to Ana on behalf of Boy A. He said Ana was “interested” in Boy A and Boy A wanted to tell her he wasn’t interested in her.

Boy B told gardaí after a short conversation in the park Ana went one way and Boy A went another.

Gardaí then contacted Boy A who gave a different account. “Divergences began to emerge,” counsel said.

“But bear in mind they were 13-year-old boys. “At the time there was no suggestion, other than her being missing, that foul play had occurred.”

Gardaí checked the large amount of CCTV cameras in the park, but many did not function. They were able to track her phone as being in the park at 5.30pm on the day she went missing.

The house where she was found was 3km away, about 30 minutes' walk.

Witnesses reported seeing Boy A with injuries and a limp in the area around 5.30pm. He later said he had been attacked and mugged by two men and made a statement about this to gardaí. He said the mugging happened after he left Ana.

Counsel said this was a made up story and he got those injuries in the struggle with Ana.

The case against him relies on the lies he told about his movements and “compelling, coercive” forensic DNA evidence.

His DNA was found on the tape around her neck and in semen found on her top, counsel said. In addition various items found in Boy A’s house also connected him to the murder.

‘Zombie-type mask’

These include a distinctive backpack containing gloves, knee-pads, shin guards and “perhaps most chillingly” a homemade “zombie-type mask.” He was seen wearing this backpack in the park.

Counsel said there is no innocent explanation to explain these facts.

The prosecution said Boy B assisted in the murder and knew it was going to happen. Mr Grehan said he lured Ana out, knowing they were going to meet Boy A at a “dirty, dark derelict” house that Boy A knew was empty.

He said Boy B sourced the builders' tape and “voyeuristically” watched what happened to Ana. He also helped in the cover-up by lying to gardaí, counsel said.

“All of these matters come from [Boy B’s] own mouth, incrementally over time.” He said his claim that he did not know what was going to happen is simply not credible.

Both accused were “good, if not best friends” at the time and Ana knew them both.

Counsel said the jury will learn about the boys’ backgrounds and some “peculiar interests” they had.

One of the boys, Boy A, is accused of “aggravated sexual assault”. Mr Grehan explained that in this case, this means he is alleged to have sexually assaulted her while using serious violence.

Explaining some of the law behind the case, Mr Grehan said people can be guilty of a crime even if they are not directly involved.

He said if a bank robber went in and pointed a gun at the teller, the getaway driver outside would also be guilty of robbery, as would the person tasked with sourcing the getaway car .“Even if he wasn’t at the scene.”

He said: “Under our law a person who aids and abets an offence can themselves be guilty of that offence.”

Two children tried as adults

Mr Grehan told the jury of eight men and four women the trial involves “two children accused of the murder of a child”.

He said jurors have to keep the age of the participants to the forefront of their minds. Although certain protections are in place, both accused are being tried as adults meaning “all the rights and rules of the criminal justice system apply. They get no less or no more of a trial than anyone else.”

Some evidence will be direct like “I saw X do Y.” Other evidence will involve jurors drawing an inference from facts, Mr Grehan said.

He said the onus is on the prosecution to prove guilt. “There is no onus on the defence at all.” It must discharge this burden “beyond a reasonable doubt” he said.

Before the case opened Mr Justice Paul McDermott warned the jury not to look up anything about the case online. “So many people do nowadays.” he said. He told jurors they “are not detectives in the case.”

He said they shouldn’t discuss the evidence with family or friends and should ignore the news and newspapers.

The trial continues on Wednesday with the rest of Geraldine Kriégel’s evidence.