Thursday 22 March 2018

No testimony for Michaela suspect with 'key evidence'

Former Legends Hotel
employee Dassen
Narainan has not been
called as a witness in the
Michaela Harte murder
Former Legends Hotel employee Dassen Narainan has not been called as a witness in the Michaela Harte murder trial
His lawyer Poonum Sookun
The suite in which Michaela was murdered is now in use again but with a different room number
John and Michaela on their wedding day

Cormac McQuinn in Mauritius

THE lawyer for one of the first suspects in the death of Michaela McAreavey said she is mystified that he won't be called to testify even though he has "crucial evidence".

Poonum Sookun, who represents former Legends Hotel security guard Dassen Narainan (27), has questioned why the prosecutor in Mauritius has not sought to put her client in the witness box

She said that Mr Narainan, the only suspect whose DNA was found at the scene of the murder, had "crucial evidence" as one of the staff at the luxury resort who was in Michaela's room the day she was killed.

Hotel workers Avinash Treebhoowoon (29) and Sandip Moneea (41) have been charged with her murder.

The 27-year-old bride was on honeymoon with her husband John McAreavey in January 2011 when she stumbled upon a robbery in her room and was attacked.

Mr Narainan was also arrested and originally charged with conspiracy to murder. However, the murder charge was downgraded to conspiracy to commit larceny after he confessed to giving Mr Moneea a key-card to access the couple's room.

Mr Narainan has since claimed that this confession was extracted at gunpoint by police and, speaking to the Irish Independent last night, he denied any involvement in Michaela's death.

And he claimed that his DNA was only present in the hotel room because he responded to Mr McAreavey's cries for help when he discovered his wife's lifeless body.

Now his lawyer has questioned why prosecutor Mehdi Choony has not insisted that her client appear as a witness in the trial which is due to start tomorrow.

According to Ms Sookun, her client had been in the hotel room only after John had found Michaela's body.

"He has evidence of when he saw Michaela on the floor and he went to help John and was trying to wake her up," Ms Sookun said.

"This is crucial evidence," she added, "they might have even chosen to call him for the sake of clarity."


Ms Sookun said Mr Narainan's DNA had been found on the wardrobe door in the bathroom because he had opened it to get a wet towel to use in attempts to revive Michaela.

"For me, the DNA he has explained," she said. "He has never denied being in the room with John."

She added: "The prosecutor is free to choose whoever he wants to call as his witness. So why does the prosecutor not call Dassen? What is the reasoning behind it?"

Mr Choony could not be contacted last night.

Mr Narainan was arrested just days after Michaela was strangled to death on January 10, 2011. He was originally charged with conspiracy to murder.

Another security guard, Seenarain Mungoo, was later arrested after Mr Narainan said that he had handled the key-card used to access the room.

Mr Mungoo was cleared and returned to his job.

Mr Narainan had also said that he gave the key-card to Mr Moneea but has since claimed that this confession, along with the false statement against Mr Mungoo, were made after police held a gun to his head.

Another suspect, Mr Treebhoowoon, has also said he was forced to confess to his alleged involvement in Michaela's death after he was beaten by police.

The Mauritian police have denied mistreating the men.

Asked if he had had any involvement in Michaela's death Mr Narainan, speaking through his lawyer, replied "no" and said: "If I knew Michaela had been murdered, I wouldn't have even gone inside the room. I would have done all I could to help John from outside."

Now working as a carpenter, Mr Narainan, said he has had "a lot of misery" since being accused in connection with the death of the Irish bride.

Irish Independent

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