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Wednesday 19 December 2018

Jury deliberations continue in Roy Webster murder trial

Roy Webster admitted the manslaughter of Anne Shortall but pleaded not guilty to her murder
Roy Webster admitted the manslaughter of Anne Shortall but pleaded not guilty to her murder

Jury deliberations continue today in the Roy Webster murder trial, as the court heard that he was a "good man who did a bad thing" when he killed Anne Shortall after being pushed past his breaking point.

A defence lawyer told the jury that the case bore none of the hallmarks of a planned, cold-blooded murder but was instead a "frenzied attack" in which Mr Webster had "lost control".

Brendan Grehan was delivering his closing speech for the defence in the trial of Mr Webster (40). The jury began its deliberations yesterday afternoon and was due to continue today.

Pregnant

The accused, a married father-of-two from Ashbree, Ashford, Co Wicklow, has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Ms Shortall (47) on April 3, 2015 at The Murrough in Wicklow town.

His plea was not accepted by the State.

The jury heard he beat the mother-of-three to death with a hammer in a confrontation after she claimed she was pregnant following a one-night stand they had and threatened to "blow the lid" if he did not give her money for an abortion.

Mr Grehan told the jury this "wasn't some cold-blooded killing planned in any way at all. It was something that happened when somebody lost control of themselves when they were effectively backed into a corner".

"If ever it could be said that there was a case where there can be no winners, then this is it," he said.

"Anne Shortall lost her life, her children lost their mother, her extended family lost a sister. Roy Webster's wife lost effectively her husband, the marriage, the family unit, the happiness and security she thought she had.

"His children will grow up without their father and, worse, it will come with the realisation when they are older of why that was."

Anne Shortall
Anne Shortall

In relation to the prosecution's assertion that Mr Webster had shown "self-pity", Mr Grehan referred to the first memo of interview in which the accused had said he was "genuinely sorry for putting everyone through that".

He said criminal law recognised that people can be pushed to breaking point and this could arise under provocation.

None of the hallmarks of murder planned in cold blood were present, Mr Grehan added. The accused used his own phone, sending texts that would be stored on Ms Shortall's phone, and he used his own van with his name "emblazoned" on it.

Mr Webster also "did this in broad daylight", driving Ms Shortall through Wicklow town, where "anybody who thought about it for a second" would realise was going to be covered by CCTV.

"Where is the cover-up?" said Mr Grehan. "How many opportunities had he, if he wanted, if he had any desire to cover his tracks and get rid of the body?"

The weapon and "oodles of evidence" was there beside the body, Mr Grehan said.

Mr Webster told gardai the attack had been like he was "looking down at himself doing it".

"In my submission, all of that has the hallmarks of somebody who has lost it completely and, having done so, inflicted terrible injuries on Anne Shortall," Mr Grehan said.

He added that the prosecution suggested the wrapping of Ms Shortall's head in duct tape played a "large part" in her death but the "preponderance" of the State Pathologist's evidence leaned toward the hammer blows.

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