The two Legends Hotel workers in Mauritius who have been charged with the murder of Michaela McAreavey have been taken to the room where the honeymooner was found dead, and the jury has also toured the site. The former staffers – Sandip Moneea and Avinash Treebhoowoon – were driven to the hotel, which is now being called the LUX Hotel following the murder, to observe the private visit by the jurors.
The jury of six men and three women were shown the room that the newlywed McAreaveys had been staying in – which is number 1025 now – last January. They were also shown the nearby poolside restaurant where Michaela, who was the daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football boss Mickey Harte, ate lunch with husband John before she was killed. They saw ten other rooms that have been brought up during the 20-day trial, as well as other significant areas of the hotel that have been referred to.
Police patrolled outside the main gate and on the shore line to ensure no unauthorised people accessed the hotel during then visit. Joining the jurors on the visit were Mr Justice Prithviraj Fecknah, defence lawyers Rama Valayden (for Moneea) and Sanjeev Teeluckdharry (for Treebhoowoon), and state prosecutor Mehdi Manrakhan. The defence barristers made a joint motion for the jury to visit the scene.
The prosecution claims that Michaela left John at the restaurant while she returned to their room to get biscuits for her tea. When she arrived at the room, she walked in on Moneea and Treebhoowoon robbing them. The courtroom group visited the hotel on Tuesday morning and returned to the court in the afternoon, when Manrakhan officially closed the case.
When the court proceedings resumed, the judge asked Moneea and Treebhoowoon if they wanted to comment on the visit or raise any concerns. Neither of them wished to comment. Then all the lawyers and foreman of the jury said they were satisfied with the visit. Wednesday was set aside for legal argument in the trial, and a hearing of the first defence opening statement is expected to be heard soon.
Both Moneea and Treebhoowoon have denied murdering Michaela. Treebhoowoon said last month that his previous confession was beat out of him. He claims to have had his head held under water and being nearly suffocated with a towel in the interrogation. Officers have also been accused of failing to put anti-contamination clothes on him while he was transported to the crime scene for a reconstruction three days following the murder.
It was later revealed that a witness who alleges he saw the accused leave the McAreavey’s room had initially been charged in connection with the murder. John also told the court how police told him that he was young and would find another wife. The couple was only married for 12 days when the tragedy occurred.
Then just last week assistant police commissioner Yoosoof Soopun told the court that management at the hotel failed to co-operate properly with police in the case. The security staff have been accused of being more worried about the damage done to the hotel’s reputation than catching the murderers. He alleges that the staff withheld information from them.
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