Friday 20 October 2017

Grieving husband labelled 'suspect' by police, trial told

After six difficult days in court, Michaela McAreavey's loved ones finally lost their patience yesterday with people laughing and interrupting from the public gallery. As another ripple of levity broke out yesterday afternoon during the trial in Mauritius, it appeared Michaela's sister-in-law Claire McAreavey decided enough was enough. 'Be quiet please,' she implored, turning round to confront the main offenders, who duly fell silent
Avinash Treebhoowoon, left, and Sandip Moneea, right, deny murdering Michaela McAreavey
Michaela Harte found dead...Photo courtesy of the Irish News of John McAreavey and wife Michaela Harte on their wedding day at St. Malacheys Church Ballymacilrory on December 30, 2010. Three men will appear in court today in connection with the murder of Michaela, daughter of Tyrone GAA boss Mickey Harte, police in Mauritius said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 12, 2011. The suspects, who are all employees of the luxury hotel where the 27-year-old newlywed was staying, are expected to face provisional charges of murder. See PA story IRISH Mauritius. Photo credit should read: Irish News/PA Wire...A
Constable Seevathian after giving evidence at the Supreme Court in Port Louis, Mauritius on day five of the trial.
Avinash Treebhoowoon arrives at court in Port Louis, Mauritius, where he denies murdering Michaela McAreavey (AP)
Sandip Moneea arrives at the Supreme Court, where he denies murdering Michaela McAreavey (AP)

Cormac McQuinn in Port Louis

THE husband of murdered honeymooner Michaela Mc-Areavey was described as a suspect in police logs in the hours after she was found dead, a court in Mauritius has heard.

But a senior police officer involved in the investigation told the trial of two hotel workers accused of strangling the teacher that he did not know why that term, and the word 'accused', was used when referring to John McAreavey in official records.

Inspector Sunilduth Nucch-edy insisted he had not identified any suspects at that time and suggested the choice of terminology was an error.

"I can't say why the word suspect has been mentioned in the diary book or the word accused," he told the jury.

It has also emerged the 'star witness' changed the statement he made originally when he was arrested in connection with her killing.

According to the prosecution team, former hotel worker Raj Theekoy will testify that he saw the accused -- Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea -- exit Michaela's room at the Legends resort shortly after hearing a woman screaming "as if she was in pain".

Screams

But yesterday, the Mauritian Supreme Court heard how he told police "I don't know anything about the lady", when he was arrested the day after her murder.

Mr Theekoy was originally charged in connection with Michaela's murder after being accused of fleeing the scene rather than helping her.

He has since been granted immunity in exchange for his testimony.

Police witness Hans Rowin Seevathian returned to court yesterday after his repeated apparent memory lapses on Monday.

Defence lawyer Sanjeev Teeluckdharry asked him to read out Mr Theekoy's original statement, in which Mr Theekoy makes no mention of hearing screams or seeing the two accused. Instead the witness said: "I did not kill the lady.

"I don't know how she was killed.

"I don't know anything about the lady."

Mr Theekoy provided no further details about the murder at that time.

One of the first police officers to respond to Legends Hotel the day of Michaela's death also testified yesterday.

Inspector Nucchedy, from Grand Gaube police near the resort, explained how he had initially been told Michaela had drowned, but realised upon arrival that her death was "suspicious".

Armed

Insp Nucchedy told the court how Mr McAreavey had been recorded in the police diary as a "suspect" and "the accused" in notes about police sentries being posted to his hotel room.

He said that the posting of sentries "does not only concern suspects or detainees", and that they were also provided for "victims of crime or even witnesses for safety purposes".

Later, counsel for Mr Moneea, Rama Valayden, asked about an attempt the inspector made to meet with Mr McAreavey two days after his wife's death but he said that an Irish diplomat had told him: "John McAreavey is very much depressed and not in a state to meet armed police."

He also asked Mr Nucchedy if he had noticed a footprint on the bed sheets and a brown belt in the bathroom at the crime scene.

The witness said he wasn't sure if the marks on the bed sheets were a footprint, but said he had seen the belt.

Mauritian forensic scientist Akiza Mooradun was also asked about a belt but she said could not say if she had been provided with it for analysis.

The trial continues

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News