A married man has been found guilty of murdering a woman he had a one night stand with.
Roy Webster (40) of Ashbree, Ashford in Co Wicklow had admitted Anne Shortall’s manslaughter but had denied her murder.
The mum of three's body was found with duct tape around her head and hands. She had been hit nine times with a hammer.
Webster looked in shock as the forewoman of the jury confirmed the unanimous decision of guilty of murder at a quarter to one this afternoon.
He stared straight ahead with his eyebrow raised and mouth slightly open and then gave a small shake of his head.
Anne Shortall’s family meanwhile let out sighs of relief and hugged each other outside courtroom number six.
In her victim impact statement Anne’s eldest daughter Emma said she had lost her mam, her best friend and her confident. Her other daughter Alanna said her whole world fell apart the day her mother was taken away from her so suddenly and violently.
Anne’s son David said this week he should have been embracing his mother and saying - ‘’Happy Birthday ‘’ but instead he was putting flowers on her grave.
Roy Webster’s barrister said he wished to apology to Anne Shortall’s family and his own family. He said while he bitterly regrets his actions it was never his intention to injure her – much less kill her.
Roy Webster wept as he was handed the mandatory life sentence. He then mouthed ‘I’m sorry’ at Anne Shortall’s family before being led away.
Mr Webster’s wife was present for some of the trial and showed little emotion when she heard the verdict.
BACKGROUND OF THE CASE
47 year old Anne Shortall’s body was discovered in the workshop beside Roy Webster’s house in April 2015 - a few days after she had been reported missing. There was duct tape around her head and hands.
Webster confessed to hitting her with a hammer in front of his wife and gardai.
In interviews with officers, he said he had a one night stand with Anne Shortall (47) over Christmas 2014. He told gardai she later said she was pregnant with his child and was asking for £6,500 for an abortion.
They met up on April 3rd 2015 and Roy Webster said it was so she could show him proof of the pregnancy. He told gardai she said she didn’t have to prove anything and was threatening to ring his wife.
He had one young child and his wife had recently given birth to their second. Mr Webster said he felt like he was backed against a wall and he could see his whole world crashing down. He admitted hitting Ms Shortall with a hammer and said he thought he struck her three or four times. He said he didn’t intend to kill her. He tied duct tape around her head and hands and placed her in the back of his work van and drove home.
One witness described him as acting ‘perfectly normal. He had dinner and watched TV and went to sleep on the couch. Two days later he had a pajama party with his family while Anne Shortall’s body still lay in his workshop.
He said he placed it there the day after the attack. A post mortem showed Anne Shortall wasn’t pregnant.
When gardai told Roy Webster this, he replied ‘I f***ing knew it.’ The jury heard Ms Shortall was being threatened with eviction as she was behind in her rent. The cause of death was given as blunt force trauma to the head and obstruction of the airwaves. The State Pathologist Marie Cassidy said Ms Shortall had sustained at least nine blows to the head.