Tuesday 12 December 2017

Defence accuses sergeant of failing to interview potential witnesses

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A MAURITIAN police officer was accused yesterday of hampering the investigation into the murder of Michaela McAreavey.

Sergeant Poovindren Ramasawmy was said to have failed to interview potential witnesses and admitted to interfering with the crime scene by moving a packet of biscuits found in Michaela's room.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel Rama Valayden, the island's former attorney general, he was told that he "did not do anything in that inquiry" and had frustrated the investigation.

And in other testimony yesterday, crime-scene photographs of Michaela's body were described, outlining how her neck was covered in bruises and scratch marks.

The allegation that Mr Ramasawmy "frustrated" the investigation came after Mr Valayden had accused the police officer of neglecting to interview a number of employees and guests at the hotel who could have assisted with the inquiry.

Mr Valayden, who represents one of the men accused of Michaela's murder, Sandip Moneea, highlighted the case of a German couple who had been staying at the resort where Michaela was killed while she and her husband John were on honeymoon.

He asked the officer: "Were you aware of a German couple who wanted to give a statement?"

He said they approached the police but "were told to come back later because they did not speak English".

Sgt Ramasawmy also admitted that he was not wearing plastic gloves and slippers when he entered the cordoned-off crime scene to assist in a reconstruction exercise two days after Michaela's death.

Mr Valayden concluded his questioning sternly, telling the witness: "I am telling you, you didn't do anything in that inquiry. In fact, you participated in frustrating that inquiry."

Photographs

Sgt Ramasawmy rejected the allegation, saying: "No, my lord."

Earlier in yesterday's proceedings, he was questioned about personal items that he had returned to Michaela's husband John three days after her death.

Sgt Ramasawmy also admitted removing biscuits from a drawer in the McAreaveys' room and placing them on a table so that they could be photographed. He said he had asked permission from a superior officer to do this.

Michaela was said to have returned to her room to collect biscuits to have with tea when she interrupted a robbery and was attacked.

In the last testimony of the day, Inspector Sunilduth Nucchedy described 24 black-and-white pictures he had instructed a police photographer to take in the aftermath of the murder.

Prosecutor Nataraj Muneesarry asked the police officer to describe each picture.

He described photograph number eight as a side view of Michaela's body "on the floor, with a bed sheet under her head", wearing a bra and underwear, with "shorts partly pulled down".

Photograph 12 was a close-up of Michaela's neck and he noted "bruises, injuries and scratch marks are visible".

Referring to these bruises and scratches in his opening speech on Wednesday, prosecutor Mehdi Manrakhan had said: "There can be no doubt that Michaela had been brutally killed."

Irish Independent

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