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Saturday, June 09, 2012
No fingerprint tests were carried out on a purse found in the room where Michaela McAreavey was murdered during an alleged botched burglary, a police officer has told the court in Mauritius.
Hotel worker Avinash Treebhoowon signed a confession admitting the crime in which he claimed he was rifling through a purse when the honeymooner unexpectedly returned to her room in the luxury Legends Hotel on the holiday island.
Treebhoowon, 31, had since insisted the statement was beaten out of him and he and fellow Legends employee Sandip Moneea, 42, deny murdering the daughter of Tyrone football boss Mickey Harte in Jan 2011.
Yesterday, their trial heard that a black purse found on the dresser of room 1025 was not dusted for prints.
Police sergeant Mohammad Dhonye made the revelation at the Supreme Court in Port Louis under cross-examination by a lawyer for Moneea, Rama Valayden.
"Was the black purse found on the dresser table fingerprinted?" the barrister asked.
"No, my lord," Mr Dhonye replied.
Day 14 of the high-profile case began with the announcement that Ms McAreavey’s widower John would not be returning to the witness box to give further evidence.
The prosecution had been considering whether to officially apply for his recall after he indicated he had made an error during his testimony.
The trial also heard from a police officer who says he heard Treebhoowon tell his father: "Forget your son now. I have made a mistake," when he visited him at a police station days after the murder.
Sergeant Mohammad Bhugaloo rejected a claim by the defendant’s lawyer Sanjeev Teeluckdharry that his client was referring to a family fall-out, not Ms McAreavey’s death.
Earlier, Mr Dhonye insisted that many items and surfaces in the room where Ms McAreavey was found strangled in the bathtub were tested. "We tested on places likely to be touched," he told the judge. "Not the whole room but where people were likely to touch."
In the alleged confession, Treebhoowon said he spotted a purse on the dresser with a number of 100 and 200 Mauritian rupee notes (approx £2.20 and £4.40) sticking out and urged Moneea that they should take some and spilt it between them.
Mr Valayden has previously claimed in court that four fingerprints not belonging to the accused or the McAreaveys were found in the room.
Mr Dhonye confirmed that four prints were retrieved at the scene — one on a pair of sunglasses, two on the door to the corridor and one on a curtain dividing the bathroom from the bedroom.
Yesterday, both Mr Teeluckdharry and Mr Valayden indicated they would have objected to any attempt to recall Mr McAreavey to the stand.
The prosecution claims his wife was murdered when she returned to the room to fetch some biscuits and found the defendants stealing.
In emotional evidence on Wednesday, Mr McAreavey said he offered to get the biscuits for her but she told him not to worry because he had done it for her the night before.
But he was challenged by Mr Valayden, who said electronic readings of entries to the room for the evening concerned did not tally with his account.
Yesterday, Mr McAreavey’s lawyer Dick Ng Sui Wa said his client wanted to inform the court that he had got the date wrong and the incident happened two days before the January 10 murder.
Chief prosecutor Mehdi Manrakhan told the court this morning he would not be making an application to officially recall him to change his evidence.
"There will be no motion to have him recalled, in view of the stand taken by the defence," he said.
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