Moneea phonecall crucial to innocence
A phone call Sandip Moneea made to his older sister on the day Michaela McAreavey died may have been humdrum, but it was crucial in proving his innocence.
Having recently returned from his own honeymoon, the newlywed said he called his oldest sibling to check if her children were behaving and whether her diabetic husband was in good health.
If the details of the conversation were open to challenge by the prosecution, the timing was not. The four-minute call was made just after 2.45pm - the time Mrs McAreavey was supposedly strangled.
For his defence team, and now it appears the jury, this was evidence the 43-year-old had been accused of a crime he could not have committed.
If things had taken a different turn Mr Moneea may not have even been in Mauritius when Mrs McAreavey was murdered. The former factory worker moved to England in 1999 and lived there for five years, albeit illegally after his six-month tourist visa expired. He had intended to stay on but when he finally reapplied for a visa, it was not granted and he returned home.
During the trial it emerged that a fake French national ID card with his photo but under another name, claiming citizenship of the French island of Reunion, was found at his house when he was arrested.
He rejected prosecution claims that after a short spell as a painter and decorator he had used the ID to dupe a London hotel to employee him, until he was eventually deported in 2004. “I returned myself,” he insisted.
During his time in London he said he worked at the Thistle Hotel in Lancaster Gate as an evening housekeeper - earning around £715 (900 euro) a month and staying with his uncle in Finsbury Park.
Back in Mauritius he briefly moved into the family home in Rose Belle, a village in the south-east of the island. He had gone to primary school there before going on to study at Mauritian form-five college, leaving at the age of 16.
But he was not to resettle in Rose Belle on his return from England, and after landing a job at Legends he was on the move again. The hotel is located at the north tip of the island, so he needed somewhere closer to live.
His older sister, Malah Gajudhur, who lived nearer the resort in the town of Goodlands, offered him a bed and he lived there for the next five years.
Moneea, who speaks good English but has a slight stammer, insisted his time at the hotel was a positive one until his arrest. “I never got into a problem with anyone,” he claimed.