Sunday 22 October 2017

Final Michaela trial witness takes stand

Cormac McQuinn in Mauritius

LAWYERS for the hotel workers accused of strangling Michaela McAreavey have closed their case after testimony from a number of staff from the resort in Mauritius where she was killed last year.

A housekeeping supervisor yesterday backed up the claim of the defendants that they are allowed enter rooms with 'do not disturb' signs on the door if the guest has told them to clean the room.

Former cleaner Avinash Treebhoowoon and his supervisor Sandip Moneea have been accused of killing the newlywed after she allegedly interrupted them stealing from the honeymoon suite she was sharing with her husband John at the Legends resort.

Prosecutors have claimed that Mr Treebhoowoon -- who was scheduled to clean the McAreaveys' room -- was breaking hotel rules by entering when there was a 'do not disturb' sign on the door.

Mr Treebhoowoon has said that he met Mr McAreavey in the corridor earlier that day, asked him if he could clean the room, and was told to come back in five minutes.

He said that when he returned the sign was still on the door and that he asked Mr Moneea what to do.

After calling the McAreaveys' room on the phone and getting no answer, Mr Moneea told him to clean the room.

Both deny any involvement in Michaela's death and say they were elsewhere in the hotel when she was killed at about 2:45pm on January 10, 2011.

Yesterday housekeeping supervisor Vivekanand Jeerasoo confirmed that it was hotel policy for cleaners to enter rooms displaying 'do not disturb' signs on the door when guests have asked them to come back to clean the room.

Mr Jeerasoo, who was Mr Moneea's boss for four years, confirmed that a supervisor could order a cleaner to go to a room "when the guest has asked for the room to be cleaned at a particular time but there is 'do not disturb' sign on the door".

Advice

In other testimony, an IT worker from Mauritius Telecom produced records showing that a phone call was made from Sandip Moneea to his sister at 2:45pm on January 10 -- the time police say Michaela was killed that day.

While the defence insist the call proves Mr Moneea was not involved, the prosecution claim he was phoning his sister to ask advice on what he had just done. Dhanraj Lillah from Mauritius Telecom, in a brief appearance in the witness box, outlined timing details of the call.

He said: "It lasted four minutes, 18 seconds."

He also said the time was synchronised with GPS satellite, adding: "It's accurate time."

Hotel gardener Chandra Peertaub told the court he saw former hotel security guard Dassen Naraynan at the hotel block near the McAreaveys' room on the afternoon of her death.

Mr Naraynan -- originally charged in connection with her death -- is facing larceny charges after allegedly providing Mr Moneea with a key-card for Michaela's room, an accusation he denies.

Mr Moneea's lawyer Rama Valayden closed his case and the trial has now adjourned until Friday when the prosecutor Mehdi Manrakhan will give his closing speech to the jury.

Almost 50 witnesses have given evidence during the last seven weeks of proceedings at the Supreme Court in Port Louis. A verdict is not expected until next week.

Mr McAreavey and other family members were present in court as the last witness was called yesterday.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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