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Sunday 18 March 2018

Because she saw us we had to kill her, court told

She was screaming and I said to Sandip let's stop her screaming

Avinash Treebhoowoon is led from court in
Port Louis, Mauritius, yesterday during the
Michaela McAreavey murder trial. Photo: STEVE HUMPHREYS
Avinash Treebhoowoon is led from court in Port Louis, Mauritius, yesterday during the Michaela McAreavey murder trial. Photo: STEVE HUMPHREYS
Murder accused Sandip Moneea is escorted to the Supreme Court in Mauritius during the murder trial of Michaela McAreavey yesterday in Port Louis. Photo: STEVE HUMPHREYS

Cormac McQuinn In Mauritius

A CONFESSION signed by one of the men accused of killing Michaela McAreavey -- and read out at her murder trial yesterday -- recounts her final moments in shocking detail.

Avinash Treebhoowoon admitted that he and his co- accused Sandip Moneea were in the process of stealing from the McAreaveys' honeymoon suite when Michaela returned to the room, angrily confronted them and screamed for help.

The police officer who recorded the confession told the Mauritian Supreme Court that Mr Treebhoowoon admitted telling his alleged accomplice, "Let's stop her screaming".


Mr Moneea then took her neck in his hands and strangled the newly-wed to death.

Chief Inspector Lucian Gerard of the Major Crime Investigation Team (MCIT) said that Mr Treebhoowoon told him: "Because she saw us we had to kill her."

Mr Treebhoowoon was told to stand up by Judge Prithviraj Fecknah for the reading of his confession statement.

Mr Gerard said it was recorded in Creole on January 13, 2011, three days after Michaela's death, in the presence of defence lawyer Ravi Rutnah.

He read the confession, which began with the accused man outlining how he had been cautioned by the police that his words could be used against him in court.

Mr Treebhoowoon said he was told that he was allowed to have a barrister present.

He described arriving at his job at Legends Hotel and going about his cleaning duties on the morning of Michaela's death at 10.15.

After lunch he had been cleaning a nearby room when he saw Michaela's husband John near their room, 1025, at around 1pm.

Mr Treebhoowoon's statement said: "There was a tag 'do not disturb' on the door and I asked the guest if I could clean his room.

"He knocked on the door and he talked with someone inside, which must have been his wife, and he told me to come back in five minutes."

He said that after half an hour he returned to room 1025 and the 'do not disturb' sign was still on the door and that later his supervisor, Mr Moneea, told him to clean the room after calling by phone and getting no answer.

Mr Treebhoowoon said that while he was cleaning he had a brief discussion with security guard Dassen Narayanen, who was standing outside.

Later he described noticing a "black wallet on the dressing table with two or three notes which were hanging out".

He left the room to see if there was anyone nearby and met Mr Moneea in the corridor.

Mr Treebhoowoon's statement continued: "He asked me if everything was alright. I told him that there is a wallet, let's take a few notes and divide it."

He said: "As soon as I took the wallet I heard knocking on the door. The door opened and I saw a woman."

He described Michaela as "white and had brown hair, slim and tanned. She was wearing a pale blue bikini.

"As soon as she entered she saw the wallet in my hand.

"She shouted: 'what are you doing, what are you searching in my pocket?'

"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.

"She was screaming and I said to Sandip let's stop her screaming." He said that they both grabbed Michaela with Mr Moneea pressing on her neck "to stop her from screaming".

"While he was pressing she was struggling and he continued to press until she lost consciousness."

He said that they put Michaela's body in the bath and "turned on the tap to get rid of any clues".

He said they fled the scene without taking any money but added: "Because she saw us we had to kill her.

"I regret what has happened and I ask for forgiveness."

Mr Gerard finished reading the confession saying that Mr Treebhoowoon had told him "I have given this statement voluntarily".

Last week the court heard how he had claimed that this confession was made under duress, after he had received beatings and been subjected to simulated drowning.

Yesterday Mr Gerard denied that the police had harmed the accused man telling the court his claims were "totally false and unfounded".

He instead told the court how the police had given Mr Treebhoowoon and Mr Moneea "food and soft drinks" while there were at MCIT offices on the day they were arrested.

Irish Independent

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