Hotel workers to go on trial for Michaela’s murder

Two hotel workers accused of murdering the daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football boss Mickey Harte while she honeymooned in Mauritius will go on trial this week.

Michaela McAreavey was found strangled in her luxury hotel room on the island in January last year, two weeks after marrying her sweetheart John.

The 27-year-old teacher from Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, was the only daughter of Mr Harte, the legendary GAA manager who steered his native county to three All-Ireland championships.

The teetotal devout Catholic was staying at the five-star Legends Hotel complex on the north-east coast of the island and had momentarily left her husband at the poolside to return to their room to collect biscuits for a cup of tea.

Her body was discovered a short time later in the bath.

Hotel room attendant Avinash Treebhoowoon, 30, and floor supervisor Sandip Moneea, 42, will stand trial in the Mauritius Supreme Court in the capital city Port Louis tomorrow.

Treebhoowoon, from Plaine des Roches, and Moneea, from Petit Raffray, deny premeditated murder.

Mr McAreavey, a talented Gaelic footballer from Co Down, has travelled back to the island with members of his and the Harte family for the trial. The widower is due to give evidence as a prosecution witness. Mr Harte is not attending.

Judge Mr Justice Prithviraj Fecknah will preside over the trial, which will be heard before a jury of nine and is expected to last two weeks. Thirty witnesses are listed to give evidence.

The Legends Hotel, which has since been renamed the Lux Hotel, is in the fishing village of Grand Gaube, close to Mauritius’s Grand Bay.

Ms McAreavey taught religious education and Irish at St Patrick’s Academy in Dungannon, Co Tyrone.

Her Requiem Mass was held close to her family home at St Malachy’s chapel in Ballymacilroy — the same church where she had married a fortnight before she was killed.

The then president Mary McAleese was among dignitaries at a funeral attended by more than 3,000 people, with the newlywed buried in her wedding dress.

There was a suggestion over the weekend that the start of the trial could be thrown into confusion with one of the two accused men seeking to have his part of the case heard separately.

Reports suggest that Mooneea’s lawyers will seek to have the trial split in two so their client can be tried alone. They will argue that Treebhoowoon’s confession, which implicates Mooneea, will prevent their client from getting a fair trial.


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