Tuesday 17 October 2017

Michaela's final minutes

Cormac McQuinn In Mauritius

HONEYMOONER Michaela McAreavey fought for her life for up to two minutes as her attacker strangled her with enough force to break a bone in her neck, a court in Mauritius heard yesterday.

Michaela's husband John left the court moments before the doctor who carried out the post-mortem detailed the horrific injuries she suffered.

Dr Sunil Kumar Gungadin said the 27-year-old was manually strangled at the luxury Legends resort on the paradise island and he flatly ruled out the use of a ligature in the killing.

The Mauritian Supreme Court heard that Michaela struggled violently to prise her killer's grip from her neck and that it could have taken two minutes for her to die.

The doctor said her killer applied such force that he broke a bone in her neck and left bruises that were compatible with the pressure from fingertips and a larger surface area, such as a forearm.

Former hotel workers Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea have denied that they killed Michaela when she interrupted them stealing from the couple's room.

Michaela's husband John, his father Brendan, sister Claire and brother-in-law Mark Harte were prompted by their legal representatives to leave shortly before the doctor's graphic testimony was heard.

Dr Gungadin told the court Michaela died after a "violent struggle" and that her body showed "features compatible" with asphyxia through manual strangulation.

His examination found froth on her mouth, blood in her nostrils and haemorrhaging in both eyes. He also noted "several linear, semi-circular abrasions on the front of the neck" caused by "nail markings".

The doctor said that "anyone with pressure on the neck would have a natural reflex" and their own fingers could cause such abrasions in trying to remove the pressure.

He found that bruises on Michaela's neck were "compatible" with fingertips and a "larger surface area". She had also suffered a fracture in a neck bone caused by her killer applying "a considerable amount of force".

The court heard that further bruising on her head was either due to "blunt force applied to the head" or her head making contact with a hard surface.

Dr Gungadin said that a "bite mark on the tongue is a compatible feature of when the person enters the convulsive phase of asphyxiated death".

Prosecutor Mehdi Manrakhan also asked Dr Gungadin if a ligature -- specifically a belt -- could have been the murder weapon but the pathologist flatly ruled this out.

Asphyxiation

The defence has frequently asked questions about a belt found in the McAreaveys' room and a police witness has said it was considered as a possible murder weapon at one point.

When asked to provide the jury with a time for Michaela's death, Dr Gungadin said she died between 2.30pm and 3pm but added that such estimates were not an exact science.

The prosecution claims that the two defendants murdered Michaela at around 2.45pm when she walked in and disturbed them stealing.

The doctor said he examined Avinash Treebhoowoon in the days after his arrest and that he had not complained of police brutality. He added: "There were no injuries to the body of accused number one."

Under questioning by defence lawyer Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, he confirmed that he had examined Mr Treebhoowoon in the presence of Inspector Ranjit Jokhoo, a member of the police unit that the defence has alleged beat and tortured the accused man.

Irish Independent

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