'Mistake' remark to father was based on leaving home

Fri, Jul 13, 2012, 01:00

DEFENDANT/AVINASH TREEBHOOWOON:PERHAPS IT was his small, thin frame – a slight physique that seemed exaggerated against the stockier, sturdier Sandip Moneea – but Avinash Treebhoowoon blended so easily into the background that it was easy to forget during the trial that he was sitting in the corner, hanging on his interpreter’s every word.

It wasn’t until the final stages of the trial, when he spent four days answering questions on the stand, that Treebhoowoon’s voice was heard for the first time.

The younger of the two accused men – he turned 32 during the trial – Treebhoowoon was raised in the town of Amaury and left school early without qualifications.

After a short stint as a lorry driver, in 2002 he found work as a room attendant at Hotel Le Meridien.

While there, he got caught up in the fallout from the alleged theft of €500 in cash from an Italian couple’s room. He was arrested and suspended for two weeks, but following an investigation, he was cleared of any involvement.

In the witness box, Treebhoowoon said he was even offered a promotion, but he turned it down because he felt he was “not ready” and left the hotel a few months later.

The Meridien gave him a letter of recommendation, which he used to get a job at Legends Hotel in 2006. In his time there, he worked between 7.15am and 4pm and earned 7,800 rupees a month.

Members of Treebhoowoon’s family attended court every day of the trial.

Among them were his younger sister, Prema, and his 23-year-old wife, Reshma, whom he met at Legends and married in 2009. They have no children. Avinash and Reshma lived with his parents in Amaury until December 22nd, 2010 – less than a month before Michaela McAreavey’s death – and moved into a house in Plaine des Roches.

The circumstances of the move became a significant issue in court.

In a log book entry recorded by police on January 12th last year – two days after the killing – officers wrote that during a visit from his father, Treebhoowoon said, “forget your son, I have made a mistake”, then burst into tears.

At the trial, Treebhoowoon claimed his words had been distorted. He insisted the “mistake” was leaving his parents’ home after a row the previous month.

“I didn’t say this to my dad.

I said, ‘Dad, don’t forget your son. I made a mistake. I left home and went away. I want to return to your place now.’”

The defence duly called Sooriedeo Treebhoowoon, the accused man’s father. The 52-year-old illiterate labourer said his son had moved out in December 2010 after a row over who was to buy a gas cylinder.

RUADHÁN Mac CORMAIC