Michaela McAreavey’s desperate last moments as she fought for her life were outlined in a graphic confession statement read out at the trial of the two men accused of her murder.
In the admission read to court, Avinash Treebhoowoon revealed he had spoken with the honeymooner’s husband John a short time before her death.
The cleaner at the Legends Hotel in Mauritius, where the couple were staying, also expressed regret and asked forgiveness.
Three days after the teacher’s death, Treebhoowoon spent more than two hours with detectives explaining in precise detail what unfolded in room 1025 of the luxury hotel.
He has since claimed the admission was forced out of him, and along with co-accused and fellow employee Sandip Moneea now denies the murder charge.
But police vehemently reject the allegation that brutal means were used, and the confession statement remains a lynchpin of the prosecution case.
For the first time at the trial in Port Louis’s Supreme Court, the jury heard exactly what Mr Treebhoowoon told police happened when Mrs McAreavey placed her key card in the door of room 1025, having left her husband by the pool.
The judge ordered Mr Treebhoowoon to stand as prosecution witness Chief Inspector Luciano Gerard read the original statement to a silent courtroom five.
“As soon as I heard that, I understood that someone was opening the door,” Mr Treebhoowoon reportedly told detectives.
“The door opened and I saw a woman. It was the first time that I saw her.
“She was white, had brown hair, slim, tanned and she had a pale blue bra and panties the same colour [bikini set].
“As soon as she entered she saw the purse) in my hand.”
Mr Treebhoowoon said he had seen a number of 100 and 200 Mauritian rupee notes (€2.75 and €5.50) in the purse and he urged Mr Moneea that they should take some and spilt it between them.
“At that time, I was still near the dressing table and she was about a metre away from me,” he said.
“She shouted and told me: ‘What are you doing, what are you searching for?’ She seemed angry.
“I got scared and at that time Sandip was still in the bathroom.
“The woman came closer to me. I tried to go in the direction of the door but she stopped me. Then, with my right hand, I pushed her and she fell on her back.
“I think at that time she must have seen Sandip. She was screaming and I told Sandip: ‘Let’s stop her from screaming.’ ”
“She was on the floor. She was not injured.
“I grabbed both her feet with my two arms and Sandip came next to her and sat and with one hand, left or right, I cannot remember, pressed on her neck to stop her from screaming, and with the other hand he pressed on her shoulders.
“He continued to press for a minute at the neck. While he was pressing she was struggling and he continued to press until she lost consciousness.
“She was breathing but she couldn’t speak.”
Mr Treebhoowoon then told police Mr Moneea said they had to kill her, so she could not identify them.
“We didn’t take any money from the wallet,” he said.
“When we threw the woman on the floor, Sandip said we have to kill her because she will report us and recognise us. We work in the hotel and we had our uniform on us.
“If the woman did not come, we would have stole the money. We don’t know her, we had no reason to kill her. Because she saw us, we had to kill her.”
Mr Treebhoowoon told officers that they carried Mrs McAreavey’s body into the bathroom, dumped her in the bath, turned on the water and attempted to wash fingerprints off her.
Mr Treebhoowoon, wearing a short-sleeved grey shirt, swayed slightly as he stared, seldom blinking, at the jury while the statement was being read in his native tongue, French Creole.
But the jurors made little or no eye contact with him, instead focusing on paper copies of the document in front of them. Chief Insp Gerard took around 20 minutes to read the statement to the packed court.
On the other side of the dock, Mr Moneea fingered the collar of his blue patterned shirt, quietly shaking his head when his alleged involvement was mentioned.
At one point, he stared straight up at his co-accused — one of the rare occasions he has looked directly at him during the first seven days of the trial.
In the public gallery, Mr Moneea’s wife Reka feverishly took notes on a pad of paper. Relatives of Mr Treebhoowoon also tried to jot down what was being said.
Mr Treebhoowoon told police that he and Mr Moneea, who was his floor supervisor, left the room and went and hid, returning to the scene soon afterwards, as other staff panicked, to witness Mr McAreavey trying to revive his bride. “That man that is the husband was screaming and was trying to wake up his wife,” he said.
It was the same man he had seen hours beforehand when he asked could he clean his room, despite a “do not disturb” sign.
“I asked the client could I clean his room. He knocked on the door and he talked with someone inside which must have been his wife and he told me to come back in five minutes,” he said.
After confessing, Mr Treebhoowoon accompanied officers back to the room at the luxury resort to show them exactly where each incident had occurred.
But before he signed his statement, noting that it was correct and he did want to add or amend it, Mr Treebhoowoon said: “I regret what has happened,” he said.
“And I ask forgiveness for that.”
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