The jury in the case of two boys accused of murdering Ana Kriégel must set aside any sympathy they have for the 14-year-old girl’s family, the trial judge has instructed.
The jury spent Monday afternoon listening to an address by Mr Justice Paul McDermott on the legal issues in the case. He will continue his address on Tuesday after which jurors will be asked to begin deliberating on a verdict.
The judge told the jury of eight men and four women they must acquit both accused if they have a reasonable doubt about their guilt.
This is a right, not a privilege, and it applies to everyone who comes before the courts, he said.
This case involves “very, very strong emotions,” he said. He told jurors they are here as judges of fact.
“The essential thing about a judge is they be independent in their mind.”
He said they must exclude from their minds an “any normal, human sympathies for any of parties.”
It is impossible not to have sympathy for the Kriégel family, he said. And it is impossible not to have a degree of empathy for the families of the accused boys.
“That is not a concern for you in terms of reaching a judgment in the case.”
He said the jurors might find it useful to consider the evidence against the accused separately.
The prosecution allege Boy B lured Ana from her home at 5pm on May 14th, 2018 on the pretence of meeting Boy A, who Ana was “interested” in. Boy A then allegedly violently sexually assaulted and murdered her in the derelict farmhouse as Boy B watched.
Mr Justice McDermott suggested the jury consider the evidence against Boy A before moving on to the case against Boy B.
Jurors should take into account that the accused, who are both 14, and some of the witnesses are also very young, he said. Their age should have some bearing on how they approach their evidence.
He reminded jurors interviews given by Boy B cannot be considered as evidence against Boy A and vice versa.
This is because the boys were not under oath during interview and they cannot be cross-examined on what they said.
He also told the jury the boys have a constitutional right not to give evidence in court and this choice is not relevant to consideration of a verdict.
If evidence can be interpreted in two ways, the jury have a duty to go with the interpretation most favourable to the accused, unless the other interpretation has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, he said.
The judge mentioned a reference in Boy B’s copybook to a “satanist club”. A number of witnesses described the club as a joke or a mess.
“You might consider it to be a distraction or irrelevant to the real issues to be decided in the case. That’s a matter for you.”
Boy A has pleaded not guilty to the murder and sexual assault “involving serious violence” of Ana Kriégel on May 14th, 2018, at Glenwood House, Laraghcon, Clonee Road, Lucan in Dublin.
Boy B has pleaded not guilty to the murder of the girl on the same date. The accused were 13 at the time of the alleged offence and are 14 now.