Cleaner says he saw defendants leave room

Tue, Jun 5, 2012, 01:00

A HOTEL cleaner has said he saw the two men accused of murdering Michaela McAreavey leave her room shortly after he heard a woman screaming inside.

Raj Theekoy, a former room attendant at Legends Hotel, said his colleagues Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea looked “very anxious” as they emerged from the room. Mr Moneea threatened to implicate him in the case if he spoke to the police, Mr Theekoy claimed.

Ms McAreavey, the daughter of Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte, was killed in Mauritius while on honeymoon with her husband John in January last year.

On the 10th day of the trial of the two men accused of murdering the 27-year-old teacher, Mr Theekoy – who has been granted immunity from prosecution for giving evidence – described hearing a woman scream in pain three times from behind the closed door of room 1025. He claimed Mr Treebhoowoon’s trolley was outside the room at the time. After hiding in the doorway nearby, he then saw the two defendants leave the room a few minutes later.

The prosecution says Ms McAreavey had left her husband beside a pool to collect biscuits when she caught the two defendants stealing in their room. Mr Treebhoowoon (31), Plaine des Roches, and Mr Moneea (42), Petit Raffray, deny the charges.

Under-cross examination, Mr Theekoy (35) conceded that from his viewpoint at room 1021 he did not have a clear view of room 1025, as the rooms were on an L-shaped corridor.

However, he insisted he had a view of the defendants’ side profiles when they emerged, with Mr Treebhoowoon turning to face him at one point. “I saw them but they didn’t see me,” he said.

Mr Theekoy said both men looked “very anxious” and Mr Treebhoowoon’s face appeared wet. “He wiped his face with his hands,” he added.

The former barber said he then left the vicinity of room 1021 and went to room 1011. A short time later he said Mr Treebhoowoon came in. “I asked him what happened in 1025 and he said nothing was wrong,” he recalled.

Mr Theekoy said his fellow room attendant told him he had to go and get the tyre of his service trolley pumped, even though it did not appear flat to him.

He said he saw Mr Treebhoowoon and Mr Moneea talking together in a corner but could not hear what they were saying.

When the alarm was raised, Mr Theekoy said, he was with Mr Treebhoowoon and Mr Moneea. The three men saw hotel director Brice Lunot running towards the McAreaveys’ room. When they followed him, they found the door to room 1025 open and “the dead body of the lady lying on the floor”, he said.

Mr Theekoy said they watched as Mr Lunot tried to press Ms McAreavey’s chest and her husband John called out. “He was crying and said, ‘Please save my wife’,” he said.

Under cross-examination from Rama Valayden, representing Mr Moneea, Mr Theekoy was presented with phone records showing he had called his wife minutes after he heard the cries from room 1025. He had said to police he told no one.

Mr Theekoy was originally arrested as a suspect in the case and subsequently charged with conspiracy to murder. That charge has since been dropped and he has been granted immunity from prosecution.

Ms McAreavey’s sister-in-law Claire McAreavey and father-in-law Brendan McAreavey were in court yesterday, but her widower John remains elsewhere on the island, unable to attend proceedings until he is himself called as a witness.