close
close

Three accused of identifying the children who murdered Ana Kriegel get new appeal

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of three people who face trial for allegedly violating publication restrictions during the trial for the murder of teenager Ana Kriegel.

The three were among 10 accused of breaching the Children’s Act 2001, which states that no one could legally identify the two boys convicted of the girl’s murder.

Edel Doherty (48), of Rory O’Connor House, Hardwicke Street, Dublin, is accused of posting photographs on Facebook of the pair, known as Boys A and B.

Kyle Rooney (26) of Rathfield Park, Raheny, Dublin, was accused of posting photographs of the two children on Twitter.

Declan Corcoran (30) of Williams Place Lower, Dublin, was accused of naming the children on Twitter and posting images of them.

Ana Kriegel, 14, was murdered on a disused farm in Lucan, Co Dublin, in May 2018, by the boys when they were both 13 years old.

When they first appeared in court on the charges, the three were told that the cases against them could be tried in District Court, where the penalties are less severe.

However, when the case returned to District Court, another judge decided that the crimes were too serious and should be sent to trial before a judge and jury in Circuit Court, where the penalties are harsher.

As a result, the three challenged the second judge’s decision in the High Court. In July 2022, the High Court ruled that the decision was incorrect and the matter should be returned to the District Court for reconsideration.

The Public Ministry appealed that decision and last November the Court of Appeals revoked it. The three then asked the Supreme Court to consider a further appeal on the basis that the decision involved a matter of general public importance or that the interests of justice required such a further appeal.

They argued, among other things, that trial in Circuit Court before a jury will eliminate certain legal rights they may have in District Court, including having their cases handled under the Probation Act without proceeding to a conviction.

It was also argued that trial by jury was somewhat a “quantum leap” in severity and that exposure to a penalty should be treated as a danger that, if resolved summarily, would not be a danger to the defendant. .

It was also stated that when a District Court judge decides to deny jurisdiction, reasons are required.

The PDP opposed a new appeal saying the law is clear and there was no deprivation of rights. It was also argued that a potential sentence did not constitute a rights violation, as a judge can and should legitimately choose a sentence within the summary level if appropriate, even if a jury has found guilty.

Supreme Court ruling

In a decision, a three-judge panel of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices Peter Charleton, Seamus Woulfe and Maurice Collins, agreed to hear a fresh appeal.

The panel said a key issue in this case was the classification and disposal of the offences. The possibility of a higher sentence is key to the request, he said. The loss of legal rights may not be as argued, but it requires analysis, as to a District Court decision to deny jurisdiction, she said.

While Article 38.2 of the Constitution establishes the right to a jury trial, the argument is that moving from a summary trial to a trial by indictment exposes the accused to danger and deprivation of legal benefits.

As to when a judge should deny jurisdiction over a triable offense in any case could be clarified by a new appeal, he said.