Former hotel workers not guilty of McAreavey murder

Thu, Jul 12, 2012, 01:00

Two former hotel workers have been acquitted of murdering honeymooner Michaela McAreavey in Mauritius.

Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea were found not guilty by a jury at the island’s Supreme Court in Port Louis.

The daughter of Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte was found strangled in her room at the luxury Legends Hotel resort in January 2011.

The prosecution had claimed the defendants attacked the teacher (27) when she interrupted them stealing in the room, having momentarily left her husband John at a poolside restaurant to fetch biscuits.

Mr Treebhoowoon (32), from Plaine de Roches, worked as a room attendant at Legends, where Mr Moneea (43), from Petit Raffray, was his floor supervisor. They were arrested at the hotel the day after the murder.

The high-profile case was originally listed to run nine days but the verdict came in its eighth week.

Both verdicts were unanimous with the jurors taking two hours to deliberate.

Members of the McAreavey family walked straight out of court when the foreman of the jury made the verdicts known.

Both accused broke down in tears in the dock while relatives jumped to their feet cheering wildly. There were chaotic scenes as the two acquitted men walked out of the court.

Throngs of people cheered “justice, justice” in Creole as policemen hurried the men through the courtyard. Moments later defence lawyers were carried aloft.

The Harte and McAreavey families issued a joint statement expressing their disappointment following the verdicts.

“After waiting 18 months in search of justice for Michaela and following the endurance of seven harrowing weeks of this trial, there are no words which can describe the sense of devastation and desolation now felt by both families,” the statement said.

The families said they would be making no further comment until they return to Ireland.

PA

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