WARNING: Graphic content

Like blood to a shark, Ana Kriegel's vulnerability was a beacon for bullies and predators.

They circled the 14-year-old at school, followed her home, waited for her to jump online.

And on May 14 last year, armed with a "murder kit" comprising a zombie mask, black gloves, shin guards, knee pads, a long stick with nails protruding from both ends and a concrete block, they killed her.

Police found the teen's beaten and bloodied body lying among used condoms and broken beer bottles inside a derelict farmhouse days later.

The monsters who brought Ana's short, difficult life to a painful, lonely and premature end were, like her, just children.

Last week those monsters, a pair of 14-year-old boys, became the youngest people in Ireland's history to be convicted of murder in a case which may be the worst child-on-child crime since the killing of James Bulger.

Ana Kriegel, 14, was bullied relentlessly for hearing and vision problems caused by complications from an operation to remove a tumour from her ear. Picture: Supplied
Ana Kriegel, 14, was bullied relentlessly for hearing and vision problems caused by complications from an operation to remove a tumour from her ear. Picture: Supplied

 

Ana loved singing and dancing, posting video of herself on YouTube, only to be mercilessly mocked by her peers. Picture: Supplied
Ana loved singing and dancing, posting video of herself on YouTube, only to be mercilessly mocked by her peers. Picture: Supplied

 

A LITTLE GIRL WHO JUST WANTED FRIENDS

Patric and Geraldine Kriegel adopted Ana from Russia when she was just two years old.

The toddler had problems with her vision and hearing following complications from an operation to remove a tumour in her ear.

But in the care of the Kriegels, who adored her from the moment they laid eyes on her, she thrived. By the age of 14, was one of the tallest girls in the school at 175cm.

Instead of giving her confidence, her towering grace made her a target.

In primary school she was mocked for her mild disabilities and found it impossible to make friends, despite her kind, sweet nature.

At the trial, Geraldine recalled a teacher's aide assigned to help Ana had expressed fears about her transition to secondary school, where the children were likely to be even more cruel.

"She said she was terrified for Ana and that she felt that she was so vulnerable and innocent that many children might make a mockery out of her and tease her," she told the court.

As predicted, the bullying intensified at high school and the little girl who once found such joy in singing and dancing stopped listening to music altogether.

She was mocked for having "a fake mum and dad", teased for being hard of hearing and for struggling academically.

No matter how badly she was treated, Ana kept her faith in humanity and was always searching for new friends. Like so many other teens, she turned to social media for company.

But the abuse continued online, sent via Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube and other platforms Ana had a presence on.

After she was bombarded with "frightening", "sexually explicit" messages, she agreed to hand over her passwords to her mother.

It didn't seem to matter what Ana posted, the response would be overwhelmingly awful. She'd put up a selfie and her comments would typically be full of people wishing her dead. Once, somebody written simply: "I'd have you executed."

 

Ana blossomed into one of the tallest girls in the school but her height only made her more of a target. Picture: Supplied
Ana blossomed into one of the tallest girls in the school but her height only made her more of a target. Picture: Supplied

'NOBODY EVER CALLED FOR ANA'

On Halloween 2017, Ana was assaulted by young boys as she made her way home from an event she'd helped supervise.

Geraldine recalled her daughter coming home "hysterical, banging on the front door". The teen tearfully told of having been approached by four boys who were older than her and that one of them had said, "You're going to have sex with me, Ana".

She'd responded "no" and he had smacked her on her backside as she'd crossed the road to get away from them.

The Kriegels reported the incident to gardaí (Irish police), who issued the boys with a caution.

The abuse led to depression and she was counselled for suicidal thoughts and self-harm.

So when a boy knocked on the door of Ana's house in the village of Lucan, south Dublin and said he was going to take her to meet another boy, someone she had a crush on, she was beside herself with joy; life was finally looking up.

Ana never came home.

Geraldine, who had not been present when her daughter went out, was immediately worried after hearing Ana had been visited by a boy before she disappeared because "nobody ever called for Ana".

The family and gardaí searched for the missing girl for three days, focusing on a local park and surrounding properties, many abandoned or occupied by squatters, where Ana had last been sighted.

 

'I THOUGHT IT WAS A MANNEQUIN'

Just before 1pm on May 17, 2018, three days after she disappeared, Ana's naked body was found lying among the grime of a crumbling, long-abandoned farmhouse, surrounded by empty condom wrappers and broken bottles. She had been beaten and sexually assaulted.

"I thought it was a mannequin or something terrible,' Garda Sean White would later tell the court.

 

Police initially mistook Anafor a mannequin when they found her broken body in this derelict farmhouse in Lucan, south Dublin. Picture: Supplied
Police initially mistook Anafor a mannequin when they found her broken body in this derelict farmhouse in Lucan, south Dublin. Picture: Supplied

Two 14-year-old boys, known only as Boy A and Boy B because they are too young to be legally identified, were last week convicted of Ana's murder.

Their tender years make them the youngest in the country to be found guilty of such a crime.

Yet they were only 13 when they colluded to lure Ana to a local park where she was sexually assaulted and murdered. And the horrors they inflicted upon her, the gratuitous violence, has drawn comparisons to the abduction and murder of two-year-old Jamie Bulger.

The supervising officer that day, Detective Sergeant Declan Birchall, described walking into the crime scene after Ana's body was found.

She was naked apart from her socks, with builders' tape wound tightly around her neck and something obscuring her face.

"When I got closer I realised it was her hair covering her face..." he told the court. "There was blood at Ana's nose and her head was tilted back."

The prosecution said that a post-mortem revealed serious and extensive injuries to Ana's head and neck. Her legs thighs and torso were covered in bruises.

State Pathologist Marie Cassidy's report would also find injuries suggesting attempted penetration, the court heard.

Like James Bulger's killers Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who were just 10 when they abducted, tortured and killed the toddler in 1993, Boy A and Boy B had an obsession with violent pornography.

While the jury heard that Boy A had searched for abandoned places in Lucan and the most gruesome torture methods in history, it had not heard the extent of his searches for pornography.

A total of 12,000 pornographic images were found on Boy A's devices. Aside from those images, Boy A's devices had internet searches for "child porn". This term was searched for on two separate devices found in his room.

Photographs of a man wearing a mask were discovered on a phone found in his room.

Separately, another 5000 images were found stored on an Alcatel phone found in Boy A's bedroom, with many depicting scenes of sexual violence.

They included pictures of men dominating young women dressed in school uniform; a woman naked apart from her underpants bound to a wooden post while a man squeezed her throat as another man watched; a woman having sex with a man in a balaclava and videos of men having sex with bound and gagged women.

An examination of the defendants' devices, including computers and mobile phones, found searches for "child porn", "dark web", "horse porn" and "animal porn" and "teen sweet Russian" from November 2017 up until the murder.

Boy A and Boy B will be sentenced for Ana's murder next month.

 

If you are being bullied at school or need to talk to someone, call KidsHelpLine on 1800 551 800. For help with depression see Beyond Blue. If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you are affected by domestic violence or sexual assault, call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732). In an emergency always call triple-0.

 

 

 

 

Always searching for friends, Ana instead found herself either shunned or bullied. Picture: Supplied
Always searching for friends, Ana instead found herself either shunned or bullied. Picture: Supplied