Wednesday 21 February 2018

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

  • Anne Shortall's brother took his own life seven weeks after murder
  • 'My whole world fell apart' - says victim's youngest daughter
  • Son says he lost long-term job and girlfriend due to grief
  • 'I won't have my mum for my wedding or first-born' - says daughter
Anne Shortall (left) and murder accused Roy Webster (right)
Anne Shortall (left) and murder accused Roy Webster (right)
Anne Shortall
Roy Webster Photo: Collins Courts

Andrew Phelan

The family of Anne Shortall have said their lives have been changed forever by her brutal murder.

The mother-of-three’s children, brothers and sisters told in victim impact statements how their worlds “fell apart” when they found out she had been beaten to death by Roy Webster.

Their statements were read out at the Central Criminal Court this afternoon as Webster was handed down the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy.

In a statement read out on his behalf by his lawyer, Webster apologised to the Shortall family and his own family for his actions.

Roy Webster Photo: Collins Courts
Roy Webster Photo: Collins Courts

He repeated, however that he never intend to injure Anne “much less kill her.”

Webster (40), from Ashbree, Ashford, Co Wicklow, was being sentenced after a jury found him guilty earlier of the murder of Anne (47).

Anne Shortall
Anne Shortall

He beat her to death with a hammer at The Murrough, in Wicklow Town on April 3, 2015.

Webster had denied murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The prosecution did not accept that plea.

First, Henry Leonard, a brother-in-law of Anne, read out a victim impact 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.

"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 the gardai, victim support and the “justice system for which we are very grateful.”

Alanna Shortall, Anne’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.

"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.”

Webster wept as the mandatory life sentence was handed down as he was led from the courtroom, he was seen to mouth “I’m sorry” to the Shortall family.

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article please contact the Samaritans on 116123 for support or visit the website on www.samaritans.org.

Pieta House can be contacted on 1800 247 247.  For more information on Pieta House and its services visit www.pieta.ie.

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