Sunday 19 November 2017

Jury in Roy Webster murder trial asks to re-hear evidence as they continue to deliberate on verdict

Roy Webster and Anne Shortall
Roy Webster and Anne Shortall
Roy Webster Photo: Collins Courts

Andrew Phelan

THE jury in the Roy Webster murder trial has asked to re-hear the evidence of State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy as they continue to deliberate on a verdict.

The four women and seven men have also asked to be read back the statement of a forensic scientist who carried out an analysis on blood spatter in the accused's van, where he beat Anne Shortall with a hammer.

The jury was considering a verdict in the trial for a third day at the Central Criminal Court today.

They had been sent home last night having spent just over three and a half hours deliberating since late Tuesday afternoon and throughout yesterday.

Just before 1pm, after the jury had been out for just over five and a half hours in total, the foreman asked Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy to re-hear the State Pathologist's evidence and a statement given by Professor Stephen Clifford, a forensic scientist.

The judge will read these back to the jury when they return after lunch.

Mr Webster (40), a father-of-two from Ashbree, Ashford, Co Wicklow has pleaded not guilty to the murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Anne Shortall (47) at The Murrough, in Wicklow Town on April 3, 2015.

That plea was not accepted by the prosecution.

It is the State's case that Mr Webster beat Anne Shortall to death with a hammer after they had a one-night stand and she threatened to "reveal all" if he did not pay her to have an abortion.

The defence has maintained the accused had no intention of killing or causing serious harm to Ms Shortall, a mother-of-three, but had "lost control" and reacted in fear and panic to her threat.

Yesterday, the jury had asked Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy to re-read a statement made by a friend of the accused's wife Sinead.

Carmel Phibbs, whose statement had been read to the court on day six of the trial, was at the Webster home on the afternoon that Ms Shortall was killed.

She told gardai that when Mr Webster arrived home he was acting "completely normal".

The jury has also been given a number of exhibits, including the hammer that the prosecution alleges Mr Webster used to beat Ms Shortall to death.

Earlier, Judge McCarthy told the jurors there were two verdicts open to them; guilty of murder or not guilty to murder but guilty of manslaughter.

He told them that it was open to them to consider the defence of provocation.

He explained that this where there is a sudden, unforeseen, onset of passion, which at the time when the accused killed the deceased, totally deprived him of self-control.

The judge said it was not enough to show that the accused lost his temper, or was easily provoked.

He said the prosecution had to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he was not provoked.

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