A leading Child Law solicitor has described the trial of the two boys who killed Ana Kriegel as “a master class in how criminal trials should be run and in particular how criminal trials involving juveniles should be run.”
Catherine Ghent told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that it was very clear that the gardaí, the DPP, the courts service, prosecution and defence counsel all, at a very early stage, decided to put a lot of thought into how this would be run.
This was evidenced by gardaí in their searches, she said, “going down with unmarked cars, creating as little fuss as possible, not releasing details of the arrest until just before Boy A was charged.
“You had the adaptation of the court proceedings, you had no wigs and gowns, you had the boys sitting with their parents, you had facilities for breaks, you had facilities for shorter sitting hours of the courts and I think all of that has added to the legitimacy of the process.”
Ms Ghent acknowledged concerns expressed about the rights afforded to the boys, and where was Ana in the process.
“I think she was brought back into the process in the victim impact statement, but I think what people need to realise is that your constitutional right to trial and due course of law is extremely important.
“We have the presumption of innocence and all of us if we're charged with a criminal offence would expect the benefit of that.
“There is also specific provision in the Constitution now for children to be recognised as people requiring particular attention and that is not just an Irish obligation, that's a European obligation.
“Everyone in this case has to be commended for the way this was carried out.”
She said it was legitimate to question the length of the sentences, but said that the legitimacy of the length of the sentences depends on what happens to the boys during the sentence.
“You have to step back and look at it from a rational point of view and in that regard the most important question is how do we take steps to ensure that these boys are safer for other people when they are released because that is what needs to be at the heart of this - protecting the public when they are released.
“There are serious questions that are going to have to be answered in relation to the capacity of Oberstown. Do the professionals there have the capacity to address the inherent complexity and intricacy of these particular boys?
“Will the admission of the boys overwhelm a service which had its problems … Will that have the effect of destabilising other young persons?
“What extra resources are the State making available to assist staff and professionals - in relation to supervision and ancillary resources? All that needs to be looked at.
“Once they cross the Rubicon of turning 18 and moving to our prison system … we don't want them to be simply left in the adult prison system with nobody intervening.
“It's clear with such an important case that there is a multi disciplinary and highly expert approach.”