Monday 23 October 2017

Anne Shortall knew she wasn't pregnant three weeks after sex with murder accused

Roy Webster and Anne Shortall
Roy Webster and Anne Shortall

Andrew Phelan

ANNE Shortall knew she was not pregnant when she went to her GP three weeks after she had sex with murder accused Roy Webster, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

The doctor, Geraldine O’Kelly, said Ms Shortall was referred on for a gynaecological test that could not have been performed if she had been pregnant.

The test was carried out weeks before Mr Webster beat her to death with a hammer after she “blackmailed” him.

Dr O’Kelly was giving evidence at the murder trial today.

Mr Webster (40), a father-of-two, from Ashbree, Ashford, Co Wicklow denies murdering Ms Shortall (47) on April 3, 2015 at The Murrough, also in Wicklow.

He pleaded guilty to manslaughter but that plea was not accepted by the prosecution.

The jury has already been told he beat the mother-of-three to death with a claw hammer after he she blackmailed him by threatening to “reveal all” about a one-night stand they had.

The married father-of-two said he struck her about the head when she made the threat after saying she was pregnant and asked him to pay STG £6,500 for an abortion.

Mr Webster, a cabinet maker, tied her head and hands with duct tape after the assault and drove her to his home, leaving her body in his workshop in a shed while he spent the weekend with his family.

In interview, he admitted hitting her but said he did not intend to kill her and reacted in “fear and panic” to her threat.

Today, Dr O’Kelly said Ms Shortall had been her patient and had been on a relatively low dose of the antidepressant, Venlafaxine for about 10 years.

In cross-examination, Brendan Grehan SC, for the defence, said the jury would hear evidence from State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy later today, that this drug was found in the deceased’s system in a post mortem examination.

Dr O'Kelly said the last time she saw Ms Shortall was on January 12, 2015, when she came in complaining of very heavy periods over the previous few weeks.

“I am satisfied that she wasn’t pregnant and she knew she wasn’t,” Dr O’Kelly said.

Dr O’Kelly advised an ultrasound and the accused attended a gynaecologist on March 16, 2015. The letter that came back stating that there was nothing abnormal in the womb that could explain heavy bleeding, nothing “of a sinister nature.”

A pipelle biopsy was carried out, a scraping of the womb, which Dr O’Kelly agreed was incompatible with somebody being pregnant.

“You wouldn’t be able to do it,” she said. “Normal practice is they would ask beforehand.”

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of four women and seven men.

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