Saturday 21 September 2019

Editor is fined €4,500 and publisher €25k in Kriegel trial contempt

IDM editor Sebastian Hamilton
IDM editor Sebastian Hamilton

A newspaper editor has been found guilty of contempt of court and fined €4,500 over the publication of an article on the trial of two boys for the murder of schoolgirl Ana Kriegel.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott also fined the publisher of the Irish Daily Mail, Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Ltd, €25,000 after the company admitted contempt of court.


The article was published in the Irish Daily Mail (IDM) on May 3 this year with the headline: "CCTV shows Ana being led to her death."

It appeared over a report of the previous day's evidence when CCTV footage showing defendants Boy A and Boy B and Ana was played to the jury.

The publication of the article led to a brief reporting ban on the entire trial, which Judge McDermott ordered should continue in the case of the IDM.

The DPP issued contempt of court proceedings against court reporter Helen Bruce, IDM editor Sebastian Hamilton and the publisher.

Last Thursday, Brendan Grehan SC, for the DPP, said proceedings against Ms Bruce had been dropped, and she was "entirely blameless".

Eoin McCullough SC said Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Ltd accepted its guilt.

However, Mr McCullough said Mr Hamilton, the editor, had gone home for the night before the copy was rewritten and was not guilty of contempt.

The court heard the mistake arose out of a "mis-description" in a news list which was never corrected.

Mr McCullough said that when the Kriegel trial began, Mr Hamilton had ordered that any edited copy would be returned to the original reporter for verification. However, this had not happened,

In his ruling yesterday, Judge McDermott said it was unfortunate that Ms Bruce's "accurate copy" was "altered and embellished", and she was not given an opportunity to re-read it. He said she bore no responsibility for what had happened.

He said the published article was not a fair or accurate depiction of what happened in court.

He also said the headline gave rise to a "real potential" to put more pressure on the two accused, by presenting an adverse view of Boy B's case.

The judge said he was satis- fied Mr Hamilton as the edit- or bore responsibility for the publication of the article, and as a result, he had committed contempt of court.

Judge McDermott said he accepted what had happened was not a deliberate action taken to interfere with the trial. However, the article posed a real risk to the administration of justice.

Judge McDermott said the parties had apologised.

He fined Mr Hamilton €4,500 and the publisher €25,000.

The two boys were convicted of murdering Ana (14) and will be sentenced this month.

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