Wednesday 18 October 2017

I was on phone, accused tells Michaela trial

Cormac McQuinn In Mauritius

ONE of the men accused of strangling Michaela McAreavey told a court yesterday he was on the phone at the time police say she was killed.

Former hotel supervisor Sandip Moneea told the Mauritian Supreme Court that he was in the middle of a four-minute phone call at the time the honeymooner is said to have been murdered.

Mr Moneea yesterday denied strangling Michaela, saying: "I would never do such a thing."

He also told the court how he heard co-accused Avinash Treebhoowoon's cries of pain during his alleged torture at police headquarters.

Mr Moneea said that the afternoon Michaela was killed he had been speaking on the phone to his sister Mala Gujadhur.

He claimed that the call was between 2.45pm and 2.50pm -- the same time prosecution witness Raj Theekoy says he saw Mr Moneea "looking stressed", walking from the direction of the McAreaveys' room after hearing a woman scream.

Mr Theekoy's claims were later put to the defendant by prosecutor Mehdi Manrakhan and Mr Moneea said they were "not true".

He confirmed that he had asked the room cleaner to enter the McAreavey's room to clean it even though there was a 'do not disturb' sign on the door.

Mr Moneea said he sent him to do it because John McAreavey had told Mr Treebhoowoon to come back to clean the room after meeting him in the corridor.

He told the court that after their arrest in connection with Michaela's death that he was taken to the headquarters of the Major Crime Investigation Team in Port Louis with Mr Treebhoowoon.

Screaming

The defendant said he was in another office in the building when he heard his co-accused "screaming twice" adding "it was loud".

He claimed that Mr Treebhoowoon was crying "don't hit me".

Mr Treebhoowoon said he signed a confession admitting involvement in Michaela's death only after he was beaten by police.

Mr Moneea was asked if he had strangled Michaela while Mr Treebhoowoon held her legs, and the defendant replied: "I would never do such a thing".

Mr Manrakhan also told the court that a senior police officer Yusef Soopun had seen Mr Moneea fill out Mr Treebhoowoon's form the next morning and that he wrote room 1028 instead of 1025 where the McAreavey's were staying.

Mr Moneea said: "That's not true," adding: "Mr Soopun was not with me."

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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