Monday 23 October 2017

Jury in Roy Webster murder trial fail to reach a unanimous verdict, a majority verdict can now be returned

Roy Webster and Anne Shortall
Roy Webster and Anne Shortall

Andrew Phelan

The jury in the Roy Webster murder trial has been told by the presiding judge they can return a majority verdict, after failing to reach one unanimously.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy told the four women and seven men that he will accept a verdict from them by a majority of 10 to 1.

The jurors were in deliberations for a fourth day, having retired on Tuesday evening.

Deliberations have taken over seven and a half hours so far and a verdict has not yet been reached.

After 12.13pm, the foreman was asked by the Central Criminal Court registrar if the jury had reached a verdict on the one count before the court.

She replied "no" and Judge McCarthy said there were circumstances in which the jury may bring in a verdict by majority.

He said in law it was a qualified majority and may not fall below 10.

The jurors then went out again to resume considerations.

There are 11 jurors instead of 12 because one woman became ill during the trial and was discharged as she was unable to continue.

Yesterday, Judge McCarthy re-read the evidence of State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy at the jurors' request.

They 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.

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.

Previously, 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 who was at the Webster home on the afternoon that Ms Shortall was killed.

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.

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

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