Saturday 24 September 2016

Mother-of-three 'beaten to death with hammer after she threatened to expose fling'

Adam Cullen and Ken Foy

Published 08/04/2015 | 02:30

A VIGIL was held tonight by local residents in memory of Anne Shorthall, whose body was found in a shed in Co Wicklow yesterday.

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A murder investigation has been launched.

It is believed she had been beaten to death with a hammer after she threatened to expose a brief fling she had with a man. 

Her remains were found in an outbuilding in Co Wicklow yesterday, five days after she was first reported missing.

A 38-year-old man has been arrested by gardaí and was last night being questioned at Wicklow garda station.

Ms Shortall (47) and the suspect were known to each other and officers are investigating the theory that she was killed following a row over cash.

Gardai at the scene of the body of missing Wicklow woman Anne Shortall was discovered in Kiloughter County Wicklow. Pic Frank McGrath
Gardai at the scene of the body of missing Wicklow woman Anne Shortall was discovered in Kiloughter County Wicklow. Pic Frank McGrath
Gardai at the scene of the body of missing Wicklow woman Anne Shortall was discovered in Kiloughter County Wicklow. Pic Frank McGrath

It is understood that Ms Shortall had a brief fling with the man and was threatening to expose it and that they argued over a substantial amount of money.

Gardaí have been examining CCTV and mobile phone records in order to build up a picture of her last-known movements.

Her remains were discovered hidden under a tarpaulin in the shed at Killoughter, near Ashford, Co Wicklow.

It is understood the separated mother died from blunt force trauma to the head. However, it is understood that she was killed elsewhere and the body subsequently moved.

The local community of Wicklow Town hold a candlelight vigil in memory of Anne Shortall. Picture:Arthur Carron
The local community of Wicklow Town hold a candlelight vigil in memory of Anne Shortall. Picture:Arthur Carron
The local community of Wicklow Town hold a candlelight vigil in memory of Anne Shortall. Picture:Arthur Carron
The local community of Wicklow Town hold a candlelight vigil in memory of Anne Shortall. Picture:Arthur Carron
The local community of Wicklow Town hold a candlelight vigil in memory of Anne Shortall. Picture:Arthur Carron
The local community of Wicklow Town hold a candlelight vigil in memory of Anne Shortall. Picture:Arthur Carron
Anne Shortall had been missing since Good Friday
Gardai at the scene of the body of missing Wicklow woman Anne Shortall was discovered in Kiloughter County Wicklow this morning Pic Frank McGrath
Gardaí at the scene in Wicklow, where the body of Anne Shortall was found
Gardai at the scene where the body was discovered in Kiloughter County Wicklow. Photo:Mark Condren
Gardai at the scene where the body was discovered in Kiloughter County Wicklow. Photo:Mark Condren

Gardaí sealed off a second crime scene in the Murragh area of Wicklow town, and last night it also emerged that they had seized a van as part of their investigation.

“This man just flipped, he felt she was threatening to expose him and he just lost it. Certain buttons were pushed in him,” a source said last night.

The chief suspect in the murder probe was arrested at 2.30pm.

He was last night being questioned by officers at Wicklow Garda Station. One line of investigation in the probe is that the suspect had “felt threatened” by Ms Shortall in the weeks before the murder.

Members of Ms Shortall’s family were outside the station yesterday waiting for news on their loved one.

Ms Shortall had young grandchildren, and lived a quiet life in an apartment with her daughter Alanna in Wicklow town. She had two other adult children, Emma and David.

She was originally from Rathnew, a short distance away from where her body was found.

Her brother-in-law John McCabe told the Irish Independent that the family were "devastated" by the news.

Major searches were mounted after Ms Shortall went missing over the weekend. She was last seen on Good Friday at around 4pm in Wicklow town.

Gardai at the scene where the body was discovered in Kiloughter County Wicklow.
Photo:Mark Condren
Gardai at the scene where the body was discovered in Kiloughter County Wicklow. Photo:Mark Condren
Gardai at the scene where the body was discovered in Kiloughter County Wicklow. Photo:Mark Condren
Gardai at the scene where the body was discovered in Kiloughter County Wicklow. Photo:Mark Condren

Mr McCabe said that a huge turnout for the search effort was a demonstration of Ms Shortall's popularity locally.

He said the family needed time to "come to terms" with the tragedy and were too upset to speak further.

Ms Shortall was reported missing on Saturday and a public appeal was issued by gardaí as to her whereabouts.

Numerous searches involving local volunteers took place until yesterday afternoon.

Ms Shortall had been spotted on CCTV in the Leitrim Place area of Wicklow town when she got into a van.

Grim

State pathologist Marie Cassidy attended the scene to examine the body shortly after 6.30pm.

Ms Shortall's body was removed to the mortuary at St Columcille's Hospital in Loughlinstown, where a post mortem will be carried out this morning.

Local councillor Pat Kavanagh said the grim discovery had sent shockwaves across the county.

"It's a blessing for the family that they have some sort of closure. But it's a terrible, tragic event that you wouldn't wish on any family," she said.

"I was out this morning with a search party, and the gardaí were fantastic in their professionalism. They were so quick in their detection and recovery of the body."

The last time such a violent crime occurred in the vicinity was a double-murder in November 1985, she said.

Margaret Nolan (64) and her daughter Anne (24) were found dead in their farmhouse in Ballymurrin.

Irish Independent

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