Sunday 24 September 2017

Michaela’s last moments as confessed by accused

Murder accused Sandip Moneea closely followed by Avinash Treebhoowoon leaving the Supreme Court in Mauritius

David Young in Port Louis

A DETAILED confession statement given to police by one of two men accused of murdering honeymooner Michaela McAreavey was read at his trial in Mauritius today.

In it Avinash Treebhoowoon, 31, admitted his part in killing the daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football boss Mickey Harte in her hotel room at the island's luxury Legends Hotel last January.



The confession statement made by the accused three days after the murder was today read to a packed court in Port Louis by a senior detective who interviewed him at the time.



Treebhoowoon told Chief Inspector Luciano Gerard that Mrs McAreavey had disturbed him and his co-accused Sandip Moneea, 42, as they were burgling the room of her and her husband John, the court heard.



Mr Gerard read the accused's statement to the jury.



In it, Treebhoowoon said: "As soon as she entered she saw the wallet in my hand.



"At that time I was still near the dressing table and she was about a metre away from me.



"She shouted and told me 'what are you doing, what are you searching...'.



"She seemed angry. I got scared and at that time Sandip was still in the bathroom.



"The woman came closer to me. I tried to go in the direction of the door but she stopped me.



"Then with my right hand I pushed her and she fell on her back.



"I think at that time she must have seen Sandip. She was screaming and I told Sandip, 'Let's stop her from screaming'.



"At the time she was on the floor she was not injured.



"I grabbed her feet with my two arms and Sandip came next to her and sat and with one hand, left or right, I cannot remember, pressed on her neck to stop her from screaming, and with the other hand he pressed on her shoulders.



"He continued to press for a minute at the neck. While he was pressing she was struggling and he continued to press until she lost consciousness.



"She was breathing but she couldn't talk."



The defendant then told police his co-accused said they had to kill her, so she could not identify them.



He told officers that they carried her into the bathroom, dumped her in the bath, turned on the water and attempted to wash fingerprints off her.



They then left the room and went and hid.



Treebhoowoon has subsequently claimed the admission was forced out of him by police brutality.



He and Moneea both deny murdering the 27-year-old teacher from Co Tyrone.



In a dramatic development after Mr Gerard gave his evidence to the prosecution, a defence lawyer for Treebhoowoon, Ravi Rutnah, said he was withdrawing from the case.



During his testimony, the policeman made a series of claims against the lawyer. He said he was late arriving for a meeting with his client two days after the murder and later shared food - fried rice - with police officers.



Mr Rutnah said he had been subject to an attack on his professional integrity.



"As a direct consequence of that, I have decided to withdraw representing accused number one," he said.



Before leaving, he declared he would be back - like Arnold Schwarzenegger.



The judge adjourned the trial for the day after the defence tendered a list of additional witnesses on the back of the shock development.



Mr Rutnah is one of the proposed new witnesses.

In a dramatic development after Mr Gerard gave his evidence to the prosecution, a defence lawyer for Treebhoowoon, Ravi Rutnah, said he was withdrawing from the case.

During his testimony, the policeman made a series of claims against the lawyer. He said he was late arriving for a meeting with his client two days after the murder and later shared food - fried rice - with police officers.

Mr Rutnah said he had been subject to an attack on his professional integrity.

"As a direct consequence of that, I have decided to withdraw representing accused number one," he said.

Before leaving, he declared he would be back - like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The judge adjourned the trial for the day after the defence tendered a list of additional witnesses on the back of the shock development.

Mr Rutnah is one of the proposed new witnesses.

The trial continues.

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