Thursday 27 April 2017

Webster weeps as he is jailed for life for murdering mum of three

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy Picture: Courtpix
Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy Picture: Courtpix

Roy Webster wept as he was jailed for life after being found guilty of murdering Anne Shortall in a savage hammer attack.

The married father of two killed Ms Shortall in Wicklow two years ago when she blackmailed him over a one-night stand they had.

He viciously beat the mother of three about the head, wrapped her face and hands up with duct tape and drove her to his home, where he hid her body in his workshop for four days.

Webster (40), was found guilty by unanimous verdict of a jury at the Central Criminal Court after an eight-day trial.

The father of two from Ashbree, Ashford, Co Wicklow, had admitted manslaughter but denied murdering Ms Shortall (47) on April 3, 2015, claiming he lost control when he carried out the frenzied attack and did not intend to kill or seriously harm her.

Webster looked stunned when the jury delivered its verdict shortly before lunchtime yesterday.

Ms Shortall's family cried, held hands and hugged.

An hour later, Webster sat and listened as victim impact statements were read out at his sentencing hearing.

They said their lives had been changed forever by her brutal murder.

Her children, brothers and sisters told how their world "fell apart" when they found out she had been beaten to death by Webster.

First, Henry Leonard, a brother-in-law of Ms Shortall, read out a joint statement on behalf of her brothers and sisters, Anthony, Percy, Gary, Seppie, Josie, Liz and Eileen.

"On 3 April, 2015, our lives changed forever", the statement began. "Little did we know what we were about to go through, finding out Anne was brutally murdered is something that will ring through our heads forever.

Read More: 'Our whole world fell apart' - Murder victim Anne Shortall's family describe horror since brutal murder

"Our family has never been the same. Seven weeks later, James, Anne's brother, got so depressed over the events, he took his own life," Mr Leonard continued, reading the statement.

"There are no words to describe how these events have affected us, we are a strong family that have relied on each other through this time. Our family will never be the same again."

He then thanked gardaí, victim support and the "justice system for which we are very grateful".

Alanna Shortall, Ms Shortall's youngest daughter, read out three brief statements, starting with her own.

"On 3 April, 2015, my whole world fell apart, the person I relied on, counted on, was taken away from me so suddenly and violently," she said.

"My mother was not meant to die, her life was taken from her.

"She will never get to see her grandchildren grow up, or her children."

"The effects of this has had a huge impact on the last two years of my life, such as losing a good long-term job and a long-term relationship with my then-girlfriend, who was with me through it due to stress and anxiety," her older brother David Shortall said in his statement.

"This led to me being prescribed anti-depressants and turning me into a totally different person than I was before this disastrous event that tore our family apart.

Read More: Murderer's apology worth little to Anne's loved ones

"On Wednesday, I should have been embracing my mother with open arms and saying happy birthday, instead I put flowers on her grave."

Emma Shortall said: "On April 3, 2015, I lost my mam, my best friend, my confidant.

"My life changed forever for the worst. I will never have my mother for when my first child is born, or she won't be here for my wedding day. There is a void in my life that can never be filled."

Brendan Grehan SC, for the defence, then read out an apology on behalf of Webster.

"He wishes to apologise, to say sorry to all those affected by his actions, especially the children and family of Anne Shortall and his own family. While he bitterly regrets his actions, it was never his intention to injure her, much less kill her," he said.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy exempted the jury from further service for 10 years.

Webster had been in custody since his arrest in April 2015, as he had never made a bail application.

Irish Independent

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