Monday 11 December 2017

Suspect in Michaela murder free after he turns state witness

Stewart Maclean

A MAN charged in relation to the honeymoon murder of Michaela Harte was yesterday freed after he agreed to testify against her alleged killers.

Tyrone GAA boss Mickey Harte's only daughter was murdered in January while on honeymoon in the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius with her husband John McAreavey.

The 28-year-old former beauty queen was strangled after she apparently disturbed intruders who were rifling through belongings in the couple's hotel room.

Mauritian Raj Theekoy (31) walked free from court on Monday following a hearing in which prosecutors revealed he would provide crucial testimony implicating his former colleagues Abinash Treebhoowoon (29) and Sandip Moneea (41).

Mr Theekoy had been charged with conspiracy to commit murder but is now to become a witness in the trial of the pair who are accused of killing Ms Harte on January 10.

Police inspector Ranjit Jokhoo yesterday said he believed Mr Theekoy's evidence would help bring Ms Harte's killers to justice.

"Theekoy was a suspect but at this stage all of the charges against him have been dropped," he said. "This is because he has agreed to become a key state witness.


"He will tell the court that he saw the two main suspects leaving the murder room in the moments after the offence was committed.

"As a result of this testimony, the police advised the department of public prosecutions to drop the charges against him."

Mr Theekoy was arrested alongside Mr Treebhoowoon and mr Moneea on January 11, the day after the murder at the luxury Legends hotel.

Detectives provisionally charged the room cleaner with conspiracy to commit murder following the allegation he had failed to raise the alarm despite hearing screams coming from inside Michaela's room.

On Monday, magistrate Sheila Bonomally was told prosecutors were willing to dismiss the case against Mr Theekoy, for which he had spent almost three months on remand.

The hotel worker was released unconditionally.

The court also heard the preliminary murder charges against Mr Moneea and Mr Treebhoowoon would be upheld again after prosecutors said they believed there was sufficient evidence to justify a trial.

Detectives have claimed Mr Treebhoowoon admitted the pair killed Michaela Harte by accident after she entered her bedroom and caught them stealing from her purse.

He allegedly told officers they dumped the former Rose of Tralee contestant's body in the bath after Mr Moneea strangled her. However, mr Moneea, a room supervisor, has always denied the claim.

Mr Treebhoowoon has since also claimed he made the confession only after being tortured by police.

The hearing also saw charges against a fourth suspect lowered.

Legends Hotel security officer Dassen Narainen (26) had faced a provisional charge of conspiracy to commit murder after allegedly confessing he helped supply a magnetic room key.

The court heard prosecutors would instead bring a formal charge against him of conspiracy to commit theft.

The main trial is not expected to take place until next year at the earliest.

Irish Independent

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