McAreavey trial enters final phase with closing statements due
THE MICHAELA McAreavey murder trial in Mauritius will enter its final phase tomorrow when the prosecution makes its closing speech to the jury.
The final defence witnesses testified at the criminal court in Port Louis yesterday, leaving only closing speeches to be heard before Judge Prithviraj Fecknah gives his directions to the jury.
The judge told the nine jurors the prosecution would make its closing statement tomorrow, followed on Monday by lawyers for the defendants, Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea.
The jury could be sent out to consider its verdict late next week, once it has received directions from the judge.
The timetable means the trial, originally listed for two weeks, will run into its eighth week. Some 41 witnesses have given evidence, and court transcripts already run to some 2,000 pages.
Ms McAreavey, a 27-year-old teacher from Co Tyrone, was strangled while on honeymoon with her husband, John, last year.
The prosecution claims she was murdered by Mr Treebhoowoon (32) and Mr Moneea (43) after she returned to her hotel room to collect biscuits and found them stealing. Both men deny the charges.
Yesterday, the court heard from a technician at Mauritius Telecom, who confirmed that a call was made from Mr Moneea’s mobile phone just after 2.45pm on January 10th last year.
That is about the time the prosecution says Ms McAreavey was killed.
While the defence insist this call, from Mr Moneea to his sister, proves Mr Moneea was not involved, the prosecution claims he was phoning his sister to ask advice on what he had just done.
Earlier in the trial, prosecution witness Raj Theekoy implicated Mr Moneea and Mr Treebhoowoon, claiming he saw them coming from the direction of room 1025 – the McAreaveys’ room – minutes after he heard a woman scream in pain from inside.
Under cross-examination, it was revealed that the state witness called his wife during this period. He explained that he phoned her when waiting near room 1025 to see who would emerge from the McAreaveys’ room.
The telecoms technician, Dhanraj Lillah, confirmed that a phone registered to Mr Theekoy made an outgoing call at 2.47pm that lasted 83 seconds.
One of the final defence witnesses was Vivekanana Jeerasoo, the housekeeping manager at Legends Hotel. Mr Jeerasoo described Mr Moneea as a “very straight” worker and said that while there had been complaints about him during his time at the hotel, they were related to the cleanliness of rooms, not his behaviour.
According to both defendants, Mr Treebhoowoon came to find Mr Moneea about 2pm on the day of the killing to ask him whether he should clean the McAreaveys’ room – even though there was a Do Not Disturb sign on it.
Mr Treebhoowoon told the court he had met Mr McAreavey around half an hour earlier, who had told him to come back in five minutes.
Mr Moneea has claimed he rang through to the room to see whether anyone was there and, when no one answered, he sent his co-accused to clean it.
Mr Treebhoowoon said the task took him 25 minutes and he left at 2.35pm – about 10 minutes before the prosecution contends Ms McAreavey was killed.
The prosecution has suggested that Mr Moneea broke procedures by sending Mr Treebhoowoon to clean the room when the Do Not Disturb sign was there.
However, Mr Jeerasoo told Mr Moneea’s barrister, Rama Valayden, that Mr Moneea had acted correctly.
“If a client asks for his room to be done at a particular time the supervisor will tell the room attendant to go and do that particular room,” he explained.