The lawyer for a teenage boy, accused of the murder and aggravated sexual assault of Anastasia Kriegel, has said there was "not one pick of evidence" given by any witness in court that his client intended to kill the schoolgirl or anyone.
Patrick Gageby SC, defending Boy A, asked the jury in his closing speech today if there was “any solid or real evidence” in the case of his client’s intention to kill or his intention to kill Ana Kriegel. “Has any witness from the witness box given evidence that [Boy A] ever said he wanted to kill anyone or Ana,” Mr Gageby asked.
Counsel for Boy B, who is accused of murdering Ana Kriegel, has said the prosecution case against his client does not "add up in any shape or form" and there is no evidence that he knew what was going to happen to the schoolgirl.
Damien Colgan SC, defending Boy B, said in his closing speech that the prosecution could not prove that Boy A and Boy B had conspired or planned to kill Ana.
Boy B told his friend that Boy A "snaked him" as he got him to collect Ana and this was "exactly what happened" to Boy B in this case, said Mr Colgan, adding that he had been "set up" by his co-accused.
Boy B did not know what was going on in Boy A's mind, he had "no knowledge" about what was going to happen that day and there was "no plan," said Mr Colgan. Mr Colgan said Boy B brought Ana to the house because he thought he might see some "drama" or "kissing" that he could tell his friends about.
The accused, who are both 14, cannot be named because they are minors. They have each pleaded not guilty to murdering the 14-year-old Kildare schoolgirl at Glenwood House, Laraghcon, Clonee Road, Lucan on May 14 last year. Boy A is further charged with Ana's aggravated sexual assault in a manner that involved serious violence to her. He has pleaded not guilty to that count also.
Addressing the court, Mr Gageby said he was not going to tell the jury what verdict they should reach as this was a matter for them. Age was very important in this case, he said and he asked the jurors to recognise that young people, particularly those in their early teenage years, "have an immaturity".
Going through the evidence in the trial, Mr Gageby said that Ana died in “demeaning circumstances” and her parents had shown “enormous grace” since the beginning of the trial. Ana came from a “very happy home” and everything a child could have wanted was provided for her, he outlined.
He acknowledged that everyone has the greatest of sympathies for the Kriegel family. “We also recognise the terrible effect on the parents of a 13-year-old child who has been brought to trial for such serious offences,” Mr Gageby said, adding that he was not drawing an equivalence between the two things.
The barrister pointed out that his client’s family are just like the rest of their community, calling them “hard-working and decent people”. "This is not a house which gardaí would have called to or where children would have been known for anti-social behaviour or petty vandalism," he said.
Not having "previous brushes" with the law is not a defence but was highly relevant in establishing if Boy A planned to kill Ana, he said.
Everyone in the court room were adults apart from the two accused boys, he said, adding that it was easy to forget the world of 13/14 year olds. He warned the jury to be careful about drawing inferences about a young person in terms of their appearance and interests.
Addressing evidence on Boy A's phone regarding a video detailing torture methods, Mr Gageby said there is nothing to indicate the video was searched or even viewed.
Mr Gageby said it was part of the prosecution's case to suggest "the oddity" of young people having an attraction for abandoned places. Children in the area had wandered around abandoned houses so maybe it is not as strange as it might have been portrayed, he explained. Furthermore, he asked the jury to consider if there was any 13 or 14 year old boy whose "media could sustain the level of examination sustained in this case".
The barrister said his client had left "substantial traces" at the scene and on the contents of a bag and gardaí notified him that he would be arrested if he attended Clondalkin Garda Station. "Isn't it telling that he did not appear to do anything with the bag and its contents, does that say anything about planning?" he asked.
Pathology evidence showed injuries to Ana's genitals but it couldn't be established if these occurred through non-consensual activity, he said. Counsel said it also "can't be ruled out" that a neck swab taken from Ana showing male DNA did not result from "casual intimacy".
The jury might decide Boy A was present when the injuries were inflicted on Ana, counsel said. "But is there any real evidence that he planned any of this?" he asked.
He said the case was based almost entirely on circumstantial evidence which had to "be very carefully weighed".
It is the prosecution case that Boy A is guilty of the murder and aggravated sexual assault of Ana Kriegel due to the "overwhelming forensic case" against him.
In his closing speech last Friday, prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan SC said that semen matching Boy A's DNA was found on Ana's top at the scene. DNA matching Boy A was also found on Ana's neck and on the insulating tape around her neck. Counsel further pointed out that blood matching Ana's DNA was found on Boy A's boots, on a backpack found in a wardrobe in his bedroom and on a mask, gloves and knee pads found inside the backpack.
Mr Grehan described Boy A's interviews, in which he told gardaí he was not in the abandoned house, as being like a child who has eaten the biscuits and has "chocolate all around the mouth and they are still saying they didn't do it."
In his closing speech, Mr Colgan said it was the prosecution theory that Boy A and Boy B had planned this together but he submitted that the prosecution case did not "add up in any shape or form".
The prosecution cannot point to any time or place where the two boys had a conversation, discussed what was to be done and how it was to be carried out, he said, adding that the State's theory "did not add up in any shape or form".
Mr Colgan said there was no DNA evidence connecting Boy B to the scene, nor was there any DNA evidence connecting him to Boy A.
He reminded the jury of the evidence of pathologist, Professor Marie Cassidy, who agreed that any person would have been traumatised by what they had seen in that room. He said Boy B had witnessed the attack on Ana, "something no 13-year-old should see", he remarked.
He said the prosecution was relying on Boy B's lies during his interviews with gardaí and arguing that this was somehow sufficient to prove their case. Mr Colgan said Boy B was "clearly telling lies, there's no two ways about it". However, he said that people lie for many reasons including shame, panic, confusion, misjudgement or a desire to conceal something from one's family.
He asked the jury to consider if Boy B was ashamed of telling the truth during garda interviews because his mother was present.
Counsel said that two different versions of who Boy B is had been presented to them in court. The gardaí said he was "very bright and articulate" whereas Boy B's father gave evidence that he liked Transformers and cartoons as well as collecting Pokemon cards and hanging around with younger children, said Mr Colgan.
Mr Colgan said:
"Either way, whether he is a bright and articulate 13-year-old or a child who likes to play, what person in their right mind would go to someone's house, a house where he is known and collect a girl and they are then seen crossing the open park............knowing that this girl would be dead in 25 minutes."
No person would do that, it was "so off the radar" that it's not even feasible, he remarked, adding that Boy B knew there were cameras in the park.
Mr Colgan said prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan SC, in his closing speech, had suggested the boys left the abandoned house together. However, he said the "real evidence" - the CCTV footage - does not bear this out. He said CCTV cameras place Boy B at a certain spot in the park at 5.49pm and Boy A in almost the same place at 5.57pm.
Mr Colgan said this fits with what Boy B told gardaí, that he panicked, his brain froze and he ran from the scene.
Referring to Boy B's statement that Boy A told him he wanted to kill Ana a month previously, counsel said "not for one moment" did Boy B believe he would do this.
He also suggested that Boy A was taller and stronger than Boy B. "He had seen what he did to Ana the night before so fear was building up within him," said Mr Colgan.
Mr Colgan also said there was also no evidence that Boy B had brought Tescon-branded tape, which was found around Ana's neck, to the scene.
The gardaí did not give Boy B regular breaks during the eight interviews, he said, adding that the interviews were a highly stressful and emotional time for him.
The jury also heard evidence of a copybook found in Boy B's room referring to a satanic club. Mr Colgan said the club was "obviously a bit of fun" and held no relevance to the trial.
He said the jury must analyse the prosecution case with "a fine tooth comb".
Counsel told the jury they must find Boy B not guilty if they believe he had no knowledge of a plan to kill Ana. Mr Colgan also said that if they have a doubt about what happened they must also give the benefit of the doubt to Boy B and find him not guilty.
In his closing speech last Friday, prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan SC said there was no forensic evidence connecting Boy B to the scene and instead the prosecution had relied on "what came out of his mouth" in garda interviews. "A large amount of that were lies, untruths and half-truths," he said.
He said that Boy B "assisted the killer of Ana Kriegel" and in particular he "assisted and played a vital role in bringing Ana to the location where she was killed." He was present, Mr Grehan said, when she was brought down to the ground, stripped, sexually assaulted and "most likely when she was murdered". He then helped in covering up by his lies to gardaí, Mr Grehan said.
In his charge to the jury, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said this case had attracted high emotions and feelings and it would be impossible not to have "sympathy and empathy" for the Kriegel family. However, the jury must exclude this from their mind during their deliberations as it was essential to the process of a fair trial.
The judge told the jury they must acquit both accused if they have a reasonable doubt about their guilt.
Mr Justice McDermott said the jurors might find it useful to consider the evidence against each boy separately. He advised that it might be useful to firstly consider the evidence against Boy A and then proceed to the case against Boy B.
Jurors should take into account the age of the accused boys and some other young witnesses in the case, he said.
He reminded jurors that interviews given by Boy B cannot be considered as evidence against Boy A and vice versa.
The boys had a right not to give evidence in court and they were entitled to exercise that right, he outlined.
Mr Justice McDermott will continue charging the jury of eight men and four women tomorrow morning.