Thursday 22 February 2018

Hotel room had no trace of DNA from two accused

Trial judge Prithviraj
Fecknah
Trial judge Prithviraj Fecknah
Mauritian policeman Hans Rowin Seevathian, who gave evidence yesterday, outside court
Susan Woodroffe (far left), a forensic scientist from Cellmark Forensic Services in the UK, who gave evidence yesterday

Cormac McQuinn in Mauritius

TESTS conducted by a British forensic scientist found no DNA from the two men accused of Michaela McAreavey's murder, either on her body or in her room, their trial heard yesterday.

Susan Woodroffe, who has 30 years' experience in the field, yesterday told the Mauritian Supreme Court she found no DNA evidence from Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea in test samples she was sent by the Mauritian Police Force.

She said that the only DNA found in the samples -- which were taken from Michaela's body and the room where she was strangled -- were from the victim herself, her husband John, and a hotel security guard, Dassen Narayanen.

And she added that trace DNA from individuals other than the McAreaveys and Mr Narayanen was so negligible that it could not be used to identify an individual or be admissible as evidence.

Ms Woodroffe also explained how she was initially told by Mauritian police that Michaela had been killed by 'manual strangulation' with hands, but how she was later told the asphyxiation could have been as a result of an armlock.

Under cross-examination, Ms Woodroffe said that she had only analysed items sent to her by the Mauritian Police and not other evidence including Michaela's clothes and purse, as well as a man's belt found in the room.

She said she understood that other items had been forensically tested in Mauritius but could not specify which.

Ms Woodroffe, from Cellmark Forensic Services in Oxford, explained how, in February 2011, she had been supplied with a blood sample and nail clippings from Michaela's body as well as a blood sample from her husband John.

The Mauritian police also gave her samples from the four men who at that time were charged in connection with Michaela's death -- Avinash Treebhoowoon, Sandip Moneea, Raj Theekoy and Dassen Narayanen.

Mr Theekoy has now been granted immunity in return for his testimony.

Mr Narayanen, who the trial has already heard had a conspiracy-to-murder charge against him dropped, is facing a larceny (theft) charge in connection with the case in separate court proceedings.

Ms Woodroffe outlined how she had found DNA from both of the newlyweds on many of the samples but said that this was not unexpected as the pair had shared the hotel room.

Results

In relation to samples taken from Michaela's neck and fingernails, she told the court: "There is no specific indication that any of Raj Theekoy, Sandip Moneea, Avinash Treebhoowoon or Dassen Narayanen have contributed to the results obtained."

A "dummy" magnetic key card that could be used to gain access to the McAreavey's room was also examined and the DNA of security guard Mr Narayanen was present.

The expert said a possible DNA match for Mr Narayanen was also identified on a cupboard in the room but she said that could be a chance observation in results and not actually proof that he touched it.

The forensics specialist told the court that DNA samples left on the victim's body could have washed off when she was placed in the bath water.

She was asked by the defence team if she could have detected blood in the bath water, only to respond that she could, but was never asked to test any samples of the water

Last week, the court heard that there had been some blood found in the bathwater.

Irish Independent

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