Friday 6 December 2019

Black and white crime scene images paint picture of brutal attack

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

WHEN John McAreavey entered his room at Legends Hotel looking for his new bride Michaela he could instantly tell something was terribly wrong.

The room was trashed and the newly weds' belongings were scattered.

Clothes were strewn across the floor, and drawers and wardrobes were open. Furniture was overturned and the door of the safe wasn't shut.

Then he discovered his new bride, lying lifeless, in the semi-filled bathtub.

The details of the apparently ransacked room emerged yesterday during the questioning of the police photographer witness whose documenting of the crime scene was questioned by the defence team.

At the outset of proceedings yesterday, lead prosecutor Mehdi Manrakhan, said that "as soon as John entered room 1025 his worst nightmare began".

But even the shock of seeing his and Michaela's processions scattered around the room couldn't possibly have prepared him for the sight of his young bride, lying in the bathtub.

The court heard how he frantically lifted her from the water and desperately attempted to revive her.

It wasn't stated in court yesterday whether the state of the room was caused by the botched burglary, a struggle between Michaela and her killer, or both.

What was clear however, was that the scene that greeted John that day in January last year leaves many questions yet to be answered in the trial that has gripped Mauritius.

Police photographer Sutish Sharma Jeetwooth faced tough cross-examination from the defence team as they probed the thoroughness of his work documenting the scene.

Michaela's brutal killing was the first murder case the young photographer had worked on.

He was called upon the day she died, first to photograph her body, laid down beside the bath, and then the hotel room.

In subsequent weeks he was called again to take pictures of reconstructions in the room.

The defence lawyer asked why he hadn't photographed CCTV cameras near Michaela's room or the sand on the beachfront outside in case there were footprints.

In all cases he said he photographed only what his superior officer told him to.

Counsel for Avinash Treebhoowoon, Ravi Rutnah, asked: "You don't use your technical expertise to take other pictures you deem necessary?"

He also asked: "Do you think in this modern era black-and-white pictures are less likely to assist an investigation than colour?" to which he replied: "I can't say."

Black and white or not, the images are a glimpse into the horror that greeted the young husband who found his wife dead during a honeymoon that was, as the prosecutor put it, so "brutally interrupted".

Irish Independent

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