What happens next after boys found guilty of Ana Kriégel murder?

Boys will be held at Oberstown pending sentencing, a facility for detaining under 18s

An external view of Oberstown Children’s Detention Centre. Photograph:  Fennells

An external view of Oberstown Children’s Detention Centre. Photograph: Fennells


Oberstown Children Detention Campus, where Boy A and Boy B have been remanded in custody pending sentencing for the murder of Ana Kriégel, is situated on the outskirts of Lusk, north Co Dublin.

This is almost certainly where the boys will serve any custodial sentence imposed, up to the age of 18.

While all young people sent there have committed serious crimes, the facility refers to itself as a place of “care” rather than detention.

The daily regime unfolds in a more relaxed and less secure setting than an adult prison; one where staff prepare cooked breakfasts for young offenders as treats and where playing video games, watching movies and being given the space and time to take private phone calls is part of the daily regime.

Young people are brought on day trips outside the campus, including swimming and to the cinema, and they also receive pocket money if their behaviour is deemed good enough.

However, if they present as “angry” they will be taken out of their group on campus. They can be physically restrained by staff, though this is intended as a last resort.

An indoor sports hall in Oberstow. Photograph: Fennells
An indoor sports hall in Oberstown. Photograph: Fennells

Over the years the facility has experienced rioting by some young people, with the worst cases becoming national news stories.

At other times some young offenders have absconded during day trips with staff, though most are found and returned to the campus very quickly.

A staff of educators, care workers and medical personnel draws up a “placement plan” for every young person sent there.

The interior of the Oberstown Children’s Detention Centre. Photograph: Fennells
The interior of the Oberstown Children’s Detention Centre. Photograph: Fennells

This is formulated with a view to helping each teenager progress, stay healthy, gain an education and ultimately reintegrate into society and turn away from crime.

Oberstown houses male and female juvenile offenders, ranging in age from 12 to 18 years, after which they transfer to the adult prison system if required, to complete their sentence.

Male and female offenders are housed apart and do not mix on the large campus.

Own en-suite bedroom

Youth offenders from all over the Republic are held in Oberstown, living in houses on the campus known as ‘units’.

Up to eight young offenders live in a unit and each unit has a manager, with six staff working on each unit during the day and two overnight.

A tabletennis table room in Oberstown. Photograph: Fennells
A tabletennis table room in Oberstown. Photograph: Fennells

“Staff are there to support you and help you keep to the rules of Oberstown. You will get a phone call when you arrive and you will be allocated two key workers,” a booklet presented to each new arrival states.

All of the young offenders have their own en-suite bedroom. However, while these are described as bedrooms rather than cells, they feature large steel doors with locking mechanisms, and an observation hatch, akin to a prison cell door.

A duvet and pillow is supplied for each offender who also receives toiletries, though personal items are stored in lockers in the corridors rather than in each bedroom.

“You have a TV in your bedroom that is turned off at 2am and can be turned back on at 9am,” the information booklet for each offender informs them.

“Your bedroom is locked during the night. However, staff are there during the night if you need them and will check on you during the night to ensure you are OK.”

Each unit on the campus has a lounge area allowing the young people to congregate socially. “Multipurpose rooms” are also included in each unit where young offenders can watch movies, play video games and take phone calls in private.

Meals are delivered into each unit and the young criminals sit together at meal times. At the weekends staff prepare a cooked breakfast for the young people and at all times any special dietary requirements can be catered for.

Random searches

Breakfast is served at 9.30am each day and each young offender must then attend school on campus from 10am, Monday to Friday. Lunch is served from 12 noon to 1.30pm followed by another 1½ hours of school, which ends at 3pm.

There is one hour of free time for phone calls and X-box. From 4pm varying recreational activities are available.

“They include: gym; football; textiles; art; cooking; wood-burning; music and snooker or pool,” the information pack for new arrivals to Oberstown states.

During the school day lessons are 45 minutes long, with four classes per day leading to the offenders sitting their Leaving Cert and Junior Cert.

All of the young people undergo a medical examination by campus medical staff when they first arrive. After that there is a GP and nursing service available daily, with nursing staff present each day on campus until 9pm.

Key workers assigned to each unit also devise any medical or treatment plans for any of the young criminals who have drug or alcohol dependency issues.

The key workers also accompany the young people on appointments they have in court.

A system of random searches operates on the Oberstown campus, with bedrooms subject to search at any time and young people searched every time they leave or come back to the campus.

The mission statement of Oberstown is: “To ensure that young people detained in Oberstown are supported to move away from offending behaviour to make a more positive contribution to society”.

The centre’s vision is to “provide safe, secure and appropriate care for young people to meet their education and health needs to support them to address their offending behaviour and prepare them to return to their families and communities following release from detention.”