John McAreavey named as suspect hours after death

The husband of murdered honeymooner Michaela McAreavey was described as a suspect in police logs in the hours after she was found dead, a court in Mauritius has heard.

However, a senior police officer told the trial of two hotel workers accused of her murder he did not know why that term — and the word accused — was used when referring to John McAreavey in official records.

Inspector Sunilduth Nucchedy insisted he had not identified any suspects at that time, and suggested the choice of terminology was an error. “I can’t say why the word ‘suspect’ has been mentioned in the diary book or the word ‘accused’,” he told the jury.

Avinash Treebhoowoon, aged 30, and Sandip Moneea, aged 42, deny murdering the 27-year-old Tyrone teacher at the island’s luxury Legends Hotel in Jan 2011.

Ms McAreavey was found dead shortly after lunching with her husband by the pool at Legends.

The prosecution claim she returned to her room, 1025, to fetch biscuits for her tea and caught the accused stealing in her room.

A day after a forensic expert revealed that no DNA from the two defendants was found on Ms McAreavey, a Mauritian scientist said tests carried out in labs on the island also did not find genetic material from the men on swabs from her body.

The trial at the Supreme Court in Port Louis also heard that another Legends employee who alleges he saw the defendants leave the crime scene did not police about his claims at the time.

Raj Theekoy made a signed statement to investigating officers the day after the murder.

“I did not kill the lady,” he said. “I don’t know how she was killed. I don’t know anything about the lady.”

Mr Theekoy provided no further details about the murder at that time.

The trial has already heard that Mr Theekoy claims he heard female cries from the room where Ms McAreavey was killed and shortly after saw Mr Treebhoowoon and Mr Moneea exit the door.

He provided none of those details when interviewed on Jan 11, 2011.

It also emerged a bellboy who was one of the first at the room after the murder, and who was due to give evidence, has left Mauritius and police do not know where he is.

Elsewhere, the only other man currently charged in relation with the crime — hotel employee Dassen Naraynen — appeared in another court facing a provisional charge of conspiracy to commit larceny in connection with the McAreavey case.

The police log entries which referred to Mr McAreavey as a suspect also revealed that a police officer had been placed outside the room he stayed in the night after his wife died.

However, responding to questions from defence counsel Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, representing Mr Treebhoowoon, Mr Nucchedy said the officer was sent to the door of the room to fulfil victim support duties.

“Given that he that he is a foreigner and he just lost his wife in a murder case, it could be that the police could be of assistance.”

Mr Nucchedy, who was one of the first senior officers at the crime scene, revealed that police were originally told that someone had drowned at the hotel, but it became clear it was murder when they arrived.

He said the room was in a “slightly disturbed” state – an impression he gleaned from the bedsheets, an open suitcase, and clothes lying here and there.

The officer was asked by lawyers for both accused was he aware a hotel guest had left the resort unexpectedly at 11.45pm on the day of the murder.

“I can’t say if there was any premature departure,” he said.

He also revealed police did not examine the entry system for room 1025 to see when it was opened around the time of the murder before handing custody of the room back to the hotel two weeks later.

Mr Nucchedy confirmed that police do not know where former Legends bellboy Rajiv Bhujun is.

Mr Bhujun accompanied Mr McAreavey to the hotel room just before he found his wife dead in the bathtub. The prosecution planned to call him as a witness.

Mr Nucchedy said he is abroad. His last known port of call was Dubai.

Akiza Mooradun from the Mauritian forensic science services said she carried out tests on swabs taken from Ms McAreavey’s neck and two other locations.

She said the results only produced a genetic match that was likely to be hers.

Samples from a number of items recovered from the crime scene and swabs from Ms McAreavey were sent to Cellmark Forensic Services in the UK for specialist tests to see if DNA traces had been deposited.

On Monday, Cellmark expert Susan Woodroffe said no matches with the defendants were identified. Yesterday, junior defence counsel for Mr Treebhoowoon, Ravi Rutnah, pressed Ms Mooradun on why a bikini top found on Ms McAreavey was not sent to Cellmark, even though it bore traces of blood.

Mauritian labs were not able to find a genetic profile on the garment, the court heard.

Ms Mooradun said it would not have been appropriate to send it on to Cellmark, as its labs specialised in “touch” DNA.

While Ms Woodroffe found no matches from the accused on the samples she tested, she did find a potential match with Mr Naraynen on the room’s key card.

Mr Naraynen was at Mapou court in the north of the island yesterday facing a provisional charge of conspiracy to commit larceny, having had a provisional charge of conspiracy to murder dropped.

Proceedings in that case were adjourned until August.


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