McAreavey rejects claim police tortured suspect
JOHN McAREAVEY called out “lies” from the public gallery yesterday as the trial of two men accused of murdering his wife heard a defence lawyer outline his case.
Mr McAreavey’s interjection came as a barrister for defendant Avinash Treebhoowoon repeated claims that his client was beaten and tortured by police into signing a confession.
Michaela McAreavey was strangled in Mauritius in January last year. The prosecution claims she was murdered by Mr Treebhoowoon (31) and Sandip Moneea (42) when she returned to her hotel room and found them stealing. Both men deny the charges.
In his opening statement to the jury yesterday, Sanjeev Teeluckdharry accused Mr McAreavey of having been “evasive and defensive” during cross-examination. He was severely critical of the police investigation and expressed surprise that another former employee of Legends Hotel, Dassen Naraynen, was not in the dock.
The former security guard faces a provisional charge of conspiracy to commit larceny in connection with the case but police said they do not believe he was involved in Ms McAreavey’s killing.
Citing a report by Susan Woodroffe, a forensic scientist who did DNA tests on samples from the crime scene, Mr Teeluckdharry listed items not sent for analysis. These included slippers, hair, a belt, purses and a magnetic keycard. “Of the items sent to her, her analysis was very clear. There is no DNA evidence in relation to the two accused, meaning that this report exculpates the two accused,” he said.
Ms Woodroffe’s report said tests carried out on a “dummy” keycard used to gain entry to the McAreaveys’ room on the day of the killing showed a possible DNA match with Mr Naraynen. “I am surprised . . . why Mr Naraynen is not in the dock,” Mr Teeluckdharry said. The barrister also criticised the police’s decision not to medically examine Mr McAreavey and Mr Naraynen after the killing.
Mr Teeluckdharry, whose client is due to take the stand today, insisted the claims of police violence were central to the case.
“Ladies and gentlemen, whilst deciding, you will ultimately and indirectly be sending a signal,” he told the nine jurors. “Do you want a police force who resorts to brutality to obtain a confession, or do you want a police force that adopts a scientific approach to criminal investigation?”
Mr Teeluckdharry accused police of being evasive and of telling “a blatant lie” to the court.
“The prosecution evidence from May 22nd, 2012, up to last Friday can be summarised as follows: ‘I can’t say; I don’t remember; I personally did not do it; I was only acting under instructions; I have to check the records.’”
The lawyer also questioned the reliability of testimony from Raj Theekoy. The former Legends employee, originally arrested and charged in relation to the killing, told the court he heard a woman cry out in pain from room 1025 shortly before seeing Mr Treebhoowoon and Mr Moneea walk from that direction. Mr Theekoy was charged with conspiracy to commit murder but after 77 days in custody the case was dropped.
Mr Teeluckdharry queried his motivation. “Immunity was granted, but under condition that he comes forward as witness for the prosecution,” he said. He said that a year ago, Mr Theekoy said his first objective was to get out of jail. “One year later he . . . says his first objective is to tell the truth.”