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Roy Webster has been found guilty of the murder of Anne Shortall

He will be handed down the mandatory life sentence at a later hearing.

Roy Webster leaving a court hearing in 2015
Roy Webster leaving a court hearing in 2015

ROY WEBSTER HAS been convicted of the murder of Anne Shortall by a unanimous jury verdict and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The seven women and four men took more than seven hours to come to their verdict, which was announced at 12.45 this afternoon at the Central Criminal Court.

Webster (40), of Ashbree, Ashford, Co Wicklow had pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Shortall but when the State refused to accept his plea he went on trial for murdering the 47-year-old mother of three.

During the trial the jury heard that he beat her to death with a hammer at The Murrough in Co Wicklow on Good Friday 3 April 2015 after she threatened to tell his wife about a fling they had the previous Christmas. He then kept her body in a shed at his home until the following Tuesday.

Webster furrowed his eyebrows in surprise as the verdict was announced and shook his head as he was led from the court by prison officers.

Justice Patrick McCarthy thanked the jury for their service and attention during the trial.

The impact 

Before sentencing Justice McCarthy heard brief statements by each of Anne’s children, Alanna, Emma and David.

In a written statement read to the court by Alanna, David said: “On Wednesday I should have been embracing my mother with open arms and saying “happy birthday”. Instead I put flowers on her grave.”

Emma said she had lost her mam, best friend and confidante. She added: “There is a void in my life that can never be filled.” Alanna said the person she relied on most was taken away “suddenly and violently”. “My mother was not meant to die, her life was taken from her. She will never get to see her grandchildren grow up,” she said.

Anne’s siblings and close family penned a joint statement revealing Anne’s brother James became so depressed by what had happened that he took his own life seven weeks after her brutal murder. “Our family will never be the same,” they said.

Webster’s barrister Brendan Grehan SC then stood up to tell the court that his client wanted to say sorry to all who had been effected, especially the children of Anne Shortall and his own family. He added that while he “bitterly regrets” what happened, “it was never his intention to injure her, much less kill her.”

Webster wept before the judge asked him to stand while he passed sentence.

Justice McCarthy said: “As a matter of law there is one penalty only and I imprison you to life.” As prison officers brought him from court one final time he mouthed “sorry” in the direction of Ms Shortall’s family. His sentence was backdated to 7 April 2015 when he first went into custody.

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Eoin Reynolds

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