Accused had 'killing instincts' - McAreavey prosecutor


TWO MAURITIAN hotel workers showed “killing instincts” by strangling Michaela McAreavey after she caught them stealing, the jury at the men’s trial has been told.

In his closing speech to the nine jurors yesterday, chief prosecuting barrister Mehdi Manrakhan described events at Legends Hotel on the day of the Irish woman’s killing last year as “a robbery that turned into a brutal murder”.

Describing the trial as the most taxing and challenging of his career, he told the jury it had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the two accused men, Sandip Moneea (43) and Avinash Treebhoowoon (32), murdered Ms McAreavey, and that they acted with premeditation.

The 27-year-old teacher, the daughter of Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte, was killed at Legends Hotel while on honeymoon in Mauritius in January last year. The accused men deny the charges.

Mr Manrakhan said he felt “duty bound” to refer to attempts by the defence during the seven-week trial to point the finger at Ms McAreavey’s husband John “in a most unbefitting manner”.

These attempts were “shortlived and quickly abandoned” when it became clear they were unfounded.

“If anything, they were very insulting to John and his family, and to the memory of Michaela,” he said.

Mr Manrakhan said it would have been easier for the defendants to “beg forgiveness” from Ms McAreavey and to walk away after she caught them taking cash from a wallet in her hotel room.

“The worst that could happen would have been the loss of their jobs,” he said.

“But they decided to murder her. This showed that they both possessed killing instincts and have no respect for human life.”

He pointed to evidence from the chief police medical officer, Dr Sunil Kumar Gungadin, who concluded the cause of death was asphyxiation from compression to the neck.

“The amount of force used and the length of time the force was applied over her neck clearly showed that whoever killed Michaela had the intention to kill her,” Mr Manrakhan said.

Mr Treebhoowoon signed a detailed confession statement three days after the killing, but later denied he had given the statement and said he had been beaten and tortured by police before signing it.

Listing reasons why jurors should believe the confession, Mr Manrakhan said the evidence of Dr Gungadin, relating to the victim’s injuries, tallied with the version of events in Mr Treebhoowoon’s statement.

The postmortem report, dated February 9th, 2011, came well after the confession, which was recorded on January 13th, so the police could not have fabricated the details, he said.

On the claims of police brutality, Mr Manrakhan told the jury it was clear Mr Treebhoowoon “had come before you and regurgitated a concocted and rehearsed story”. He said Mr Treebhoowoon’s appearance on the stand last week was the first time in 18 months he had given details of the alleged beatings and torture.

Moreover, medical evidence from three doctors who examined Mr Treebhoowoon in January last year “confirmed that the allegations of police brutality were totally unfounded”.

In his 90-minute address, Mr Manrakhan cited the evidence of Raj Theekoy, another room attendant at the hotel, who said he saw the two accused men walking away from room 1025 – the McAreaveys’ room – shortly after he heard a woman screaming in pain from inside the room.

Mr Theekoy had no reason to lie. He had never had any trouble with either of the defendants, and he was a “witness of truth” who could be believed. “Members of the jury, there are no politics to truth. There is right and there is wrong,” Mr Manrakhan said.

The trial continues on Monday when lawyers for the defendants will address the court.