Anderson accused of murdering wife's lover in 2013
*This report contains information which some readers may find distressing.
Closing statements in the retrial of a former Castletown man accused of murdering his wife’s lover almost a decade ago have been heard at Douglas Courthouse.
Ian Anthony Anderson is being tried for the murder of Neil Edward Roberts who was found dead at his home, on Queen Street, on 1 December 2013.
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Addressing the jury today (23 May) prosecuting advocate Peter Wright KC said the death of Mr Roberts was ‘no chance happening’ and was instead as a result of ‘deliberate and intentional acts’.
“It was sustained, prolonged, unremitting and extremely violent,” he told jurors - adding the 60-year-old had been beaten ‘by a man who had eventually reached the end of his tether’.
The court had previously heard Mr Roberts was having an affair with Alison Anderson and – after calling the couple for help on 30 November – attended at their home.
“Neil Roberts was an irritant in his life – the source of considerable heartbreak,” the prosecutor told the jury.
“He (Ian Anderson) elected to end the competition for her affections – forever.”
Mr Anderson, he said, was seeking ‘retribution’ for the humiliation caused by his wife admitting she was in love with the gardener who he described as his ‘rival'.
Describing the 55-year-old’s account of the fatal fight - and the suggestion that Mr Roberts was a ‘credible threat’ despite his level of intoxication - as ‘fiction’ Mr Wright KC added: “Once and for all he was going to end it.”
Mr Anderson’s almost 45-minute delay in calling the emergency services was because seeking help for the dying man was ‘furthest from his mind’, the prosecutor claimed.
He needed time to ‘collect his thoughts’ and ‘come up with a story’ to avoid responsibility for his death Mr Wright KC said.
“He had achieved what he had set out to do. It was uncontrolled fury,” he added.
Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder
The Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder Mr Anderson was diagnosed with in 2014 didn’t ‘even begin’ to excuse his conduct the prosecutor said.
“He knew precisely what he was doing and he chose to do it,” he told jurors.
It had, Mr Wright KC argued, not surfaced in the previous 45 years: “The sad fact is he lost his temper and killed his rival in a fit of anger,” he added.
Highlighting that Mr Anderson had conceded himself, in cross examination, that he hadn’t been provoked the prosecutor said he was ‘calm, coherent and clear as to what he had done’ at the scene of the incident.
There was no suggestion then or afterwards, Mr Wright KC said, that he was impaired by the disorder or that he was incapable of controlling his emotions.
“Was this abnormality of mind a real cause of his conduct? We say not,” the advocate told the jury.
Mr Anderson had previously told jurors that he had ‘lost it’ during three episodes of physical altercation with Mr Roberts but Mr Wright KC questioned why he’d not previously aired this as a defence.
This, he reasoned, was because ‘it is fiction – just like the previous fictions’.
Mr Anderson’s account, he said, didn’t ‘stand up to scrutiny’.
“Why has his story changed so much? Why is it full of so many inconsistencies?” he asked.
Mr Anderson, the prosecutor said, had killed Mr Roberts ‘because he was angry and consumed with jealousy’ adding ‘neither of which excuse his conduct’.
“Ian Anderson knew precisely what he was doing, and why, but the truth is unpalatable to him,” the advocate concluded.
“The time has come to recognise what he did.”
Closing the case for the defence Mr Anderson’s advocate said anyone watching CCTV of the men, in the pub on 30 November, would have struggled to guess ‘what happened next’ and that one man would later beat the other to death.
Agreeing that a psychiatrist’s observation - that the relationship between his client, his wife and Mr Roberts was ‘very odd’ – Crispin Aylett KC said that was ‘a bit of an understatement’.
Mr Anderson, who worked in the UK during the week and returned to the Island at weekends, had struggled to maintain friendships he said adding: “He did however form an attachment to Neil Roberts.”
Despite suspecting he was having an affair with his wife, in May 2013, and signalling he wanted the friendship to end Mr Aylett KC added: “He doesn’t seem to have been able to let him go.”
This was, he said, despite the ‘intrusion’ Mr Roberts caused.
“Mr Roberts came to take on the whole of Ian Anderson’s life – living in his house, sleeping with his wife and even claiming to own his dog,” the defence advocate added: “How provocative is that!”
Describing the relationship between the three as ‘more about money than love’ Mr Aylett KC added: “At its heart is a love triangle and one where there is sadly no winners.”
Mr Anderson, the advocate told jurors, had admitted killing Mr Roberts and was not suggesting it was by accident.
“The defendant could not possibly claim to have been acting in reasonable self-defence,” he added saying Mr Anderson had accepted that his actions ‘cannot remotely be regarded as reasonable’ even if he can’t remember them.
“You have to ask yourself how, or why, could he have behaved in this way?” Mr Aylett KC told the court.
Mistakes in the first trial, in 2015, he said had led to no closure for Mr Anderson or Mr Roberts’ family - adding that their loss must be ‘unimaginable’.
Describing Mr Roberts as a ‘spiteful bully’ the advocate told the jury he had to highlight the victim’s ‘shortcomings’ adding: “Neil Roberts was someone determined to get his own way.”
Reminding jurors that Mr Anderson had no previous convictions and Mr Roberts had numerous he told them: “He appears to have been a law to himself.
“He wasn’t, was he, a man who could be trusted?”
Describing Mr Roberts as a ‘master of mind games’ he said he'd had been having an affair with Alison Anderson ‘all the while telling Ian Anderson it’s all in his head and he needs to see a doctor’.
Both Mrs Anderson, and Mr Roberts, were enjoying the benefits of Mr Anderson’s well-paid job he added.
“Neil had become the cuckoo in the nest,” Mr Aylett KC said - adding he’d taken over all aspects of the defendant’s life and remarking: “It’s beginning to look like identity theft.”
Whilst he was ‘bigging himself up as a man of means’ Mr Aylett KC said Mr Roberts was actually at risk of ‘being exposed for the penniless fantasist he really was’.
Querying whether he was ‘gaslighting’ Mr Anderson the advocate highlighted how Mr Roberts sent messages describing him as an ‘insecure fool’ at the same time he was in the pub with the man’s wife.
Mr Roberts’ claim that he’d crashed his car - which sparked Mr Anderson to go to his aid ‘out of the goodness of his heart’ - was, Mr Aylett KC said, a lie.
“It was a device to worm his way into the Anderson household. He hadn’t had an accident,” he added.
Describing the three reconvening at the Queen Street cottage as a situation at ‘crisis point’, which had to be addressed, Mr Aylett KC said Mrs Anderson’s revelation that she loved Mr Roberts was an ambush.
“All Ian Anderson wanted was to be treated with respect,” he said.
“He was ambushed by lovers who were talking about moving to a cottage neither could afford.”
Mr Anderson’s attempts to ‘withdraw from potential conflict’ - by moving into another room to call his son - had failed, he said, when Mr Roberts became ‘deliberately provocative’.
“He must, mustn’t he, have been spoiling for a fight?” Mr Aylett KC asked the jury - adding that Mr Roberts was ‘drunk and aggressive’ and the one to throw the first blow.
“Might it have been the case, just might it, that he (Mr Anderson) was provoked beyond endurance?”
Discounting the prosecution suggestion that Mr Anderson had cut his wife’s hair over the dead body of Mr Roberts as an ‘act of triumph’ Mr Aylett KC said this was just a ‘theory of the crown’s devising’.
“Please do not confuse the skill of an advocate with the actual evidence,” he urged.
Addressing Mr Anderson’s memory of the fight he added: “He cannot remember the final assault. He thought of his family and he lost it.
“The defence accept the third incident must have been one-way.”
Discussing his client’s diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder Mr Aylett KC said the traits of the condition were ‘baked in’ to his behaviour which he’d described as ‘pretty odd’ in the days leading up to the incident.
His mental function was, he said, also impaired due to the ‘morbid jealousy’ he was experiencing.
Highlighting that Mr Anderson had already spent 9.5 years in prison he told the court: “The defendant did a terrible thing for which he has already been well and truly punished.”
Urging jurors to find his client guilty of manslaughter – by way of provocation or diminished responsibility – and not murder he concluded his case asking them to bring Mr Anderson’s ‘long nightmare to an end’.
Ian Anderson denies murder.
The trial continues.