54-year-old accused of murdering Neil Roberts stands trial
*This report contains information which some readers may find distressing.
A Ballabeg man who was beaten to death by his lover’s husband was unrecognisable due to the injuries he sustained.
Neil Edward Roberts was found lying in the living room of a property on Queen Street, in Castletown, in the early hours of 1 December 2013.
The man accused of murdering him, 54-year-old Ian Anthony Anderson, is currently undergoing a retrial at Douglas Courthouse.
You can find out more HERE.
Yesterday (15 May) the jury was played the 999 call which was made by Mr Anderson at 1.04am – he’s heard telling the operator: “It’s not an emergency.”
Mr Anderson, who is currently care of the Isle of Man Prison, added: “I’ve been attacked in my house. He’s attacked me. I’ve had to defend myself.
“The guy’s down on the floor. I had to put him down otherwise I’d have been killed.”
Prosecutor Peter Wright KC told the 12 jurors that Mr Anderson had murdered the 60-year-old and then lied to cover it up; telling emergency services that he’d been injured.
“In an uncontrolled fit of rage he chose to beat and stamp his rival to death,” Mr Wright KC added.
During the six-minute call for help Mr Anderson told the operator he’d put Mr Roberts into the recovery position and that he was unconscious but breathing and didn’t need CPR.
The defendant, who is heard trying to hang up on the call, received a number of calls to his mobile - before, during and after the 999 call - which the prosecutor said were from family members in the United Kingdom.
Records of these were provided to the jury.
“There was a considerable elapse of time before any 999 call was made in this case,” the prosecutor told the court: “He needed time to come up with a story.”
A statement from the first police officer to arrive on scene, taken in 2013, was read to the court – it described how Mr Anderson was waiting at the front door, on the phone, when he arrived.
PC Mark Langley explained how the defendant had come to the door wearing a white top ‘covered in blood’ – he had swelling to his face and began ‘pacing around’.
Mrs Anderson was kneeling on the living room floor next to Mr Roberts who had been placed in a ‘semi-recovery position’.
“He was totally unresponsive,” the police officer wrote in his statement: “The male’s face was completely swollen to the point you could not make out facial features.”
Describing how he could see Mr Roberts’ chin bone, due to a laceration to his face, the police officer described his jaw as feeling ‘like it was in crumpled bits’.
PC Langley noted that whilst he knew Mr Roberts, from dealing with him on previous occasions, he didn’t recognise him due to his injuries.
He added that in his entire career “I don’t think I’ve ever seen facial injuries like the ones Mr Roberts’ sustained.”
Mr Anderson was arrested and taken to Noble’s Hospital where he was treated for a cut to his head, bruising to his knuckles, an injury to his right foot and a black eye.
In interview afterwards he told officers he’d been attacked and had acted in self-defence.
“We say his account is a lying one,” Mr Wright KC told the jury - accusing Mr Anderson of telling ‘deliberate and calculated lies’ over repeated hours and days.
CCTV of Mr Anderson and Mr Roberts in The Bay Hotel in Port Erin, from the evening of 30 November 2013, was also played to the court.
Jurors were told the two men had met up after Mr Roberts called Mrs Anderson for help alleging that he’d crashed a car – it was Mr Anderson who went to his aid.
The landlord of the pub at the time, who was called to give evidence, told the court he’d believed Mr Anderson had seemed ‘a bit frustrated’ with Mr Roberts and the pair were ‘acting strangely’.
Video footage, taken between 9.30pm and 10.50pm, showed the men with their arms around each other, kissing each other on the cheek, resting their heads together and embracing.
The landlord said he thought it was the result of an argument de-escalating adding that they were hugging ‘quite a lot’.
Mr Anderson is seen to lead Mr Roberts from the venue by the hand.
Toxicology reports show that Mr Roberts would have been almost three times the legal drink drive limit whilst Mr Anderson was below it.
Two witness statements - from the landlord and the co-owner of The Shore Hotel, in Port St Mary, also made in 2013 - were read to the court.
They detailed how Mr Roberts had been at the pub prior to attending The Bay – he was said to be cross that Mr Anderson was back on the Island after a period working away.
“My understanding was that there was a bit of a love triangle going on,” the landlord told police at the time.
The co-owner told officers Mr Roberts had been ‘like a cat on a hot tin roof’ on the night in question adding that he’d seen Mrs Anderson and Mr Roberts in the pub on previous occasions being ‘very affectionate’; it was his understanding that they were set to marry.
The next door neighbour
A statement provided from the Andersons’ next-door neighbour was also read to the court.
The jury was told the man, who was 77 at the time of making it in 2013, has since died.
He’d detailed how he’d gone to bed on 30 November but had woken at around 12.15am the next morning to use the toilet.
The neighbour described how he’d heard between eight and 10 ‘dull thuds’ which were ‘muffled’ due to the stone walls – remarking how it was ‘very unusual’ to hear any noise coming from the property.
He told officers he’d queried whether someone had been moving furniture.
Yesterday the prosecution told the court Mr Anderson accepts that he killed Mr Roberts unlawfully and that he was not acting in self-defence.
His advocates will put forward the defence of manslaughter by provocation or by reason of diminished responsibility arguing that he was ‘substantially impaired’ due to a ‘mental abnormality’.
Ian Anderson denies murder.
The trial continues at Douglas Courthouse today.