Thursday 14 December 2017

Where are they now ... the other three who were originally accused in Michaela murder

THREE other hotel workers originally charged in connection with Michaela McAreavey's murder could hardly have had more varied experiences since.

One turned key witness for the prosecution, another is suing the police for more than £400,000 and the third is facing court proceedings on a lesser charge.

The latter, Dassen Naraynen, a former security guard at the Legends hotel, has also alleged he was the victim of police brutality.

His was a name that stalked the Supreme Court murder trial, continually referred to by defence lawyers intent on casting doubt on the evidence against their clients.

During the case he appeared at another court in Mauritius - in the village of Mapou - on a provisional charge of conspiracy to commit larceny in Legends.

He denies that and rejects any suggestion he was involved with what happened to Mrs McAreavey in Room 1025.

The day after the murder last January, Naraynen apparently phoned in sick to work claiming he injured his leg and it was in plaster. But the trial heard claims he was later seen walking in a supermarket.

A police officer who gave evidence at the Supreme Court trial told the court Naraynen was not one of the murderers but alleged he had provided the key card that opened the room as part of his role in a widespread racket to steal from guests.

Traces of the security guard's DNA were found on an unauthorised "dummy" magnetic card that was found in the hotel's security office in the place where the actual staff card that opened the door of Room 1025 should have been. The card used to gain entry two minutes before Mrs McAreavey has never been located.

A potential genetic match to Naraynen was also found on a cupboard in the bathroom of 1025 that contained a safe. But a DNA expert explained that could have been a chance finding and not definite proof he had touched it.

Hotel manager Brice Lunot told the jury that Naraynen was one of the staff members who had entered the room after Mrs McAreavey had been discovered as frantic efforts to revive her were taking place.

But Legends head of security Mohammad Imrit told the trial Naraynen was spotted on CCTV close to 1025 on the day of the murder and was not supposed to be there.

Mr Imrit said Naraynen had been posted elsewhere that morning but had asked to change his position to one closer to the deluxe blocks where the McAreaveys were staying.

Giving evidence, room service attendant Ravindradeo Seetohul claimed he saw the security guard standing at the open door of 1025 talking with Avinash Treebhoowoon around half an hour before Mrs McAreavey was killed.

Naraynen was provisionally charged with conspiracy to murder but that was later reduced to the larceny charge.

Assistant commissioner of police Yoosoof Soopun told the trial Naraynen was not involved in the murder but alleged he had plotted with others to steal.

"Mr Dassen Naraynen is completely excluded as being one of the murderers " claimed Mr Soopun.

"Mr Dassen Naraynen has participated in widespread larceny."

Another hotel worker provisionally charged with conspiracy to murder was room attendant Raj Theekoy.

The father of one spent 77 days in prison after the honeymooner's death but the case was finally dropped. He was subsequently granted immunity and went on to appear as a key witness in the state case.

Mr Theekoy told the jury he heard a woman scream in pain from behind the closed door of room 1025 shortly before he saw the two accused exit from that direction.

"I started hearing a woman screaming three times," said Mr Theekoy giving evidence in his native French Creole.

"She was screaming in pain."

He said he was scared and initially thought a husband and wife were having a fight.

His admitted failure to enter the room to intervene provided grounds for a potential prosecution against him. That was the only reason he was granted immunity, the prosecution insisted.

Mr Theekoy conceded that from his viewpoint near 1021 he did not have a clear view, as it was along an L-shaped corridor from 1025.

However he claimed he had a view of the defendants' side profiles when they emerged, with Treebhoowoon turning to face him at one point.

"I saw them but they didn't see me," he told the jury.

But the account of the 35-year-old former hairdresser was challenged by the defence, which accused him of lying.

While Mr Theekoy claimed he confronted the pair about what had happened, prompting Sandip Moneea to threaten him, a barrister for the accused claimed he was actually drinking tea and joking with Treebhoowoon in the hotel's staff canteen an hour after she was found strangled in the room.

The key prosecution witness denied he had been untruthful in the witness box when lawyer Rama Valayden challenged: "You are lying."

Mr Theekoy replied: "Whatever I have seen or heard is the same as what I have told the court."

The third hotel worker detained and provisionally charged with conspiracy to murder was security guard Seenarain Mungroo.

He is now attempting to sue the commissioner of police and the state of Mauritius for 20 million rupees (£444,000) for wrongful arrest.

During the trial, Mr Soopun explained that Mr Mungroo had been initially implicated by Naraynen.

The officer alleged that Naraynen subsequently changed his account and admitted to stealing the key card that was used to access the room as part of a "widespread conspiracy to commit larceny".

Mr Teeluckdharry asked Mr Soopun if he knew that Mr Mungroo had lodged a legal bid after his arrest.

"Mr Seenarain Mungroo has sued the head of your force and the state of Mauritius for damages on 8th May 2011?" he asked.

"Yes," replied the officer.

Of the three, Mr Mungroo is the only one who has since returned to work at Legends.

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