herald

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Ana court order will continue for tech giants

Ana Kriegel was murdered at a disused farmhouse last year
Ana Kriegel was murdered at a disused farmhouse last year

An injunction ordering Facebook and Twitter to remove any photos or posts identifying Ana Kriegel's killers is to continue in advance of the boys' sentencing hearing, the Central Criminal Court has ruled.

Mr Justice Michael White granted a three-week continuation of the order that the social media giants must take down any material identifying the boys if they "become aware of or which is brought to their attention".

The court heard the situation was now "stable", but the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was concerned the issue "could flare up" again.

Circulated

The injunction was put in place after lawyers for the DPP said photos of the boys, identifying them, had been circulated by social media users.

The situation came to light last month, a day after two boys - Boy A and Boy B, now aged 14 - were convicted of murdering Ana (14) at a disused farmhouse in Lucan on May 14 last year.

Boy A was also found guilty of aggravated sexual assault.

The teenagers cannot be identified under the Children Act 2001 and by order of the trial judge, Mr Justice Paul McDermott.

Yesterday, Brendan Grehan, for the DPP, told Mr Justice White the situation now was stable, "but the director has concerns matters could flare up again, given that the sentencing process is at a particularly delicate stage". He said sentencing was listed for July 15.

He applied to have the proceedings against Facebook and Twitter adjourned to July 26 and for the existing orders to remain in place until then.

Rossa Fanning, for Facebook, said an updated affidavit outlined the fact that since the last court date the platform had endeavoured to "take all reasonable steps" to ensure compliance with the judge's orders.

He was instructed by his solicitors not to oppose the application for a continuation of the order.

"For the record, the DPP does appear to acknowledge Facebook has been entirely co-operative with all requests," he said.

Andrew Fitzpatrick, for Twitter, said he had also filed an affidavit setting out the steps his clients had taken to comply with the order. Given the "sensitivity" of the case, he was also instructed not to oppose the prosecution application.

The proceedings, including allegations of contempt of court against Facebook and Twitter, were adjourned to July 26.

The initial injunction had ordered them to "restrain any repeat" of further such material.

Boy B's lawyer, Damien Colgan, said following the publication of material after the verdict that Boy B's family had been forced into hiding.

A lawyer for a school, Shelley Horan, said an innocent teenager had been wrongly implicated on social media as one of the boys.

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