Michaela was killed for purse

AS her family prepare to receive her body in Belfast this afternoon, police investigating the murder of Michaela Harte in Mauritius have revealed she was strangled over a purse containing a small amount of cash.

Officers said one of the three men being held over the killing of the 27-year-old teacher in her honeymoon suite in the Legends Hotel had confessed that they had been interrupted by her as they were looking for the purse.

Room attendant Avinash Treebhoowoon, 29, admitted the crime to officers after one of his co-accused and fellow room attendant Raj Theekoy, 33, made a statement implicating him and the third accused, floor supervisor Sandip Moneea, 41. Treebhoowoon and Moneea, who are alleged to have carried out the killing, face murder charges.

Theekoy, who is charged with conspiracy, is alleged to have passed along the corridor outside the room in the luxury Legends Hotel while the struggle was taking place but, despite hearing screams, did nothing to intervene.

Police sources said the men returned to rob the room after spotting the purse in the room Michaela was sharing with her new husband, John McAreavey.

Yesterday, two of the accused were brought back to the hotel and forced to take part in a reconstruction of the crime. A couple of hours later, at about 7pm Irish time, the young woman’s body left Mauritius accompanied by her new husband and members of her family. Overnight it was to travel to London and on to Belfast early this morning, arriving back in the Harte family home by lunchtime.

Meanwhile, a number of tests are still being carried out in Mauritius to establish what happened in the hotel room. These include examining skin found under Michaela’s nails and DNA tests on forensics recovered from her body. The three defendants are due to return to court on Wednesday, when they are expected to be formally charged or released.

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