Wednesday 24 January 2018

Grieving husband subjected to sex smears and innuendo

Cormac McQuinn in Mauritius

THE Michaela McAreavey murder trial was unprecedented in the outrageous smears and innuendo levelled at her grieving husband John.

Defence Lawyers delved into the private details of the newlyweds' sex lives and speculated wildly about "violent lovemaking" and "erotic asphyxiation" as her family listened in horror.

Last night they described the trial as "harrowing".

One of the most painful aspects of the case was the dragging of John's name through the mud as the defence sought to insinuate that the grieving widower was involved in his wife's murder.

The slurs against John were made in an atmosphere that at times resembled a poor stand-up comedy routine.

Inappropriate quips, mostly by the defence, were received with guffaws from law students.

John's sister Claire McAreavey and Michaela's brother Mark Harte looked furious overthe way the flamboyant lawyers, particularly Mr Avinash Treebhoowoon's counsel, Ravi Rutnah, were allowed conduct proceedings.

Mr Rutnah's bizarre behaviour came to a head in the second week when he sensationally quit the trial after senior police officer Luciano Gerard told of sharing a "cordial" fried rice meal with him the evening his client was allegedly tortured.

The lawyer declared that his "professional integrity" had been attacked and quipped: "I will be back'' in Arnold Schwarzenegger style.

He took no further part. But during last night's celebrations with the acquitted mens' families he told reporters: "I told you I'd be back like Arnie.''

Some of the "comic'' atmosphere was provided by witnesses. Hapless police officers claimed they couldn't remember simple details.

Even Mr Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea laughed when "star witness", former hotel worker Raj Theekoy, claimed he couldn't remember his own telephone number.

As painful as the laughter in court must have been for Michaela's family, it was nothing compared to the repeated slurs against John.

Defence lawyer Sanjeev Teeluckdharry asked a police witness about a supposed 'sex book' that he had returned to John along with other personal items, speculating about its contents and asking about "violent lovemaking".

The family later clarified that the 'sex book' was just a supplement that came free with 'Cosmopolitan' magazine.

In the face of objections, he persisted, saying he was coming to the "crux" of the defence case.

That distressing line of questioning became a feature of the trial, with Mr Teeluckdharry confronting John in the witness box.

Heated rows between the defence and prosecution erupted when he asked about "a laptop connector, a dirty belt, sedative pills and tubes of vaginal jelly", suggesting that they were "extremely suspicious".

'Erotic'

John, who had been made to look at photos of his dead wife, never had to answer the question as Judge Prithviraj Feckna ruled there was "no evidence of foundation" for the attack.

Mr Teeluckdharry asked police witness Ranjit Jokhoo, about cases of "erotic asphyxiation" before the judge struck the question from the record.

The pressure got so much for John that he made an "uncharacteristic" outburst -- he could be heard to say the word "lies" as Mr Treebhoowoon's torture allegations were being described by his lawyer.

In week four Mr Teeluckdharry and counsel for Mr Moneea, Rama Valayden, came into possession of CCTV footage showing an arguing couple -- who bore a resemblance to the McAreaveys -- at the reception of Legends Hotel on the afternoon of Michaela's death.

The court was adjourned for two days and spent another day debating the video which actually showed a German couple

There was further delay when the same lawyer accused the judge of "poisoning" the jury's minds as he questioned Mr Treebhoowoon from the bench during his cross-examination.

Irish Independent

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