McAreavey accused denies lying to court


A HOTEL cleaner on trial for the murder of Michaela McAreavey has been accused of lying in court and trying to cover up for one of his colleagues.

On his second day in the witness box, Avinash Treebhoowoon denied an assertion by prosecution barrister Mehdi Manrakhan that he had invented parts of his evidence, which the lawyer said contradicted the version of events he gave police when first arrested last year.

Mr Manrakhan accused the defendant of inserting false times into a room attendants’ report sheet for January 10th last year – the day Ms McAreavey was killed at Legends Hotel in Mauritius.

Ms McAreavey, a 27-year-old teacher from Co Tyrone, was killed while on honeymoon with her husband, John.

The prosecution claims she was murdered by Mr Treebhoowoon (31) and his former colleague Sandip Moneea (42) when she returned to her room to collect biscuits and found them stealing. Both men deny the charges.

Cross-examining the younger of the two defendants yesterday, Mr Manrakhan compared room report sheets filled in by Mr Treebhoowoon on January 10th with data from the electronic door readers at the hotel.

For nearly all the rooms he cleaned that day, there was a similar discrepancy of up to 10 minutes in the entry times, suggesting the door readers and Mr Treebhoowoon’s watch were set to different times.

But in the case of one room, the two sources agreed that he entered at 11.26am. “You lied in your room report sheet,” Mr Manrakhan said. “No, I didn’t lie,” the witness replied.

Mr Treebhoowoon claims he entered room 1025 – the McAreaveys’ room – at 2.10pm and left it at 2.35pm. The prosecution says Ms McAreavey was killed at about 2.45pm. In the 45- to 60-minute period that followed 2.35pm, Mr Treebhoowoon said he was completing various other jobs.

These included replacing shampoo in room 1023, delivering cocktail invitations to other guest rooms, stopping at an equipment pantry, visiting the hotel’s boathouse to get a wheel on his trolley pumped and, finally, chatting with co-workers, including Mr Moneea, outside room 1012.

It was then the alarm was raised about Ms McAreavey’s body having been found.

Mr Manrakhan pointed out there was no mention of replacing the shampoo in 1023 in the statement he made to police on the January 11th – the day after the murder.

“You lied in your statement,” the barrister said. “No,” the accused replied.

The defendant had told the court he had been talking with Mr Moneea and two co-workers outside room 1012 for half an hour. Mr Manrakhan pointed out that he claimed he had been with them for 15 minutes in the version he gave to police.

“Did you say 30 minutes because you wanted to invent a story?” “No,” replied Mr Treebhoowoon.

Earlier, Mr Treebhoowoon wept in court as he claimed officers told him they could do what they liked to his loved ones because the government was “in our hands”.

He told the court police threatened to send his wife, Reshma, to Ireland to live with John McAreavey, claiming an officer told him “that man’s wife is dead, he needs a woman to live with”. He said police also said they would lock up and torture his parents.

Mr Treebhoowoon signed a police diary on January 12th – two days after the murder – admitting involvement. The following day he signed a full confession statement. He claims the statement was not his and that he signed it only after police beat and tortured him. Among his claims were that his head was plunged into a bucket of water until he vomited blood and that officers threatened to throw him out of a moving van.