Wednesday 22 November 2017

Married man (38) charged with murder of mother-of-three Anne Shorthall

Emma Jane Hade

Emma Jane Hade

A 38-year-old tradesman has been charged with the murder of Anne Shortall on Good Friday.

There were emotional scenes outside Bray District Court earlier this morning and members of the public shouted abuse at Roy Webster as he was led into courtroom two.

Mr Webster, with an address at Ashbre, Killoughter, Co Wicklow, was remanded in custody until April 16 by Judge David Kennedy.

He will then appear again before Clover Hill District Court.

Roy Webster arrives at court.
Roy Webster arrives at court.

Detective Sergeant Fergus O'Brien gave evidence and said the accused made no reply  after he was cautioned at Wicklow Town Garda station at 10.15pm last night.

Mr Webster wore a Leinster rugby hooded jumper, tracksuit bottoms and beige leather shoes.

Anne Shortall who had been missing since Good Friday (Photo: Michael Kelly)
Anne Shortall who had been missing since Good Friday (Photo: Michael Kelly)

The 38-year-old is facing a single charge of murder and he remained silent during the hearing which lasted just five minutes.

His solicitor Dermot Hickey requested that his client undergoes a psychological evaluation, and this was granted by the judge.

State Pathologist Marie Cassidy at the scene where the body of Anne Shortall, inset, was found
State Pathologist Marie Cassidy at the scene where the body of Anne Shortall, inset, was found

A statement of means was also submitted to the court.

Webster was initially arrested in connection with the mother-of-three's death on Tuesday and was questioned in Wicklow Garda station.

The 47-year-old's body was discovered under tarpaulin in a shed beside a house just three days after she was first reported missing on Saturday.

The grim discovery of her remains was made just a few miles outside Killoughter, close to Ashford Co Wicklow, on Tuesday afternoon.

Ms Shortall is believed to have died from blunt force trauma to the head, and a post-mortem was carried out.  However, investigating Gardai have withheld the results for operational reasons.

Two crimes scenes were sealed off by Gardai during the investigation, the shed where Ms Shortall's remains were discovered as well as an area in the Murrough area in Wicklow town.  A van has also been seized as part of the investigation.

Gardai harvested footage from 13 different CCTV cameras in the local area where she was last seen alive close to Leitrim Place in Wicklow town on Good Friday, in a bid to piece together information about her final hours.

The grandmother lived in an apartment with her teenage daughter Alanna in Wicklow town.

She had two other adult children, Emma and David. 

It is understood that David was in Spain at the time his mother's remains were discovered and that he struggled to get home. 

Just hours before her Mr Webster appeared in court, hundreds of people gathered in Wicklow town where she was last seen to "guide Anne home".

The crowds held a candle-lit vigil at the spot where the slain mother was last seen last night to honour her memory.

A Chinese lantern and five red balloons were released into the air and Fr Donal Roche, who led a memorial service, thanked the large crowds for "their support in the wake of the terrible tragedy". 

Her brother-in-law Jon Kenny also addressed the crowds in attendance and thanked everyone who helped search for her.

"On behalf of the family I would like to thank everyone from the community and the Gardai," he said.

"We would also like to thank the Civil Defence, volunteers and friends."

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