Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Harte tragedy: Two accused re-enact last minutes of Michaela's life

Suspect Avinash Treebhoowoon (29) is brought to Mapou Court, Port Louis Mauritius, Wednesday, Jan.12, 2011. The room attendant has been charged with the murder of Michaela McAreavey.
Raj Theekoy (33), faces a conspiracy charge in connection with the murder of Michaela McAreavey.
Mickey Harte, pictured in 2006 with his daughter Michaela

Two of the men charged in connection with the murder of Michaela Harte McAreavey yesterday showed police what had happened on Monday afternoon when an attempted robbery escalated into the alleged murder.

Yesterday afternoon, Abinash Treebhoowoon -- who has been charged with Michaela's murder -- gave a formal statement to investigating officers.

He told how he had helped plan the robbery after seeing a purse with cash lying in the room.

His barrister, Ravi Rutnah, said that he had "confessed that he was part of an incident, which turned out to be fatal".

"He didn't anticipate the development in which a woman would lose her life," he said.

He said he had apologised to the family in his formal statement.

Police confirmed that Raj Theekoy -- who has been charged with conspiracy to murder -- became a suspect after police interviewed all hotel employees. He was arrested because police were suspicious of his behaviour and story and yesterday Mr Theekoy gave police the first formal statement of what had happened.

The room attendant told police he saw a cart outside room 1025. The door of the room was closed, which is against hotel policy as the door must be left open when an employee is inside.

He heard Michaela scream and a short time later two men emerged from the room. One was sweating, and when he asked what happened, they told him not to say anything about what he had seen.

When his admission was put to Mr Treebhoowoon he confessed that he had been in the room and had played a part in killing Michaela.

The third man, Sandip Moneea, has been charged with murder, and is still being interrogated by police.

It emerged that the robbery was planned after Mr Treeboowoon had seen a purse with cash lying in the room.

He told the floor supervisor, Mr Moneea, and the duo entered the room with the intention of robbing the money.

However two minutes after they entered the ground-floor apartment at Legends Resort, Michaela returned to get biscuits to have with a cup of tea after lunch.

Mr Treebhoowoon reportedly pushed her and she screamed as she tried to get up.

Mr Moneea moved to silence her and placed one hand over her mouth and his other arm around her neck.

The duo then panicked and placed her body in the bath and turned the tap on. This was where her husband, John McAreavey, found her body a short time later.

On Wednesday, Mr McAreavey had done a reconstruction of events at the request of police.

Yesterday, the second reconstruction took place with the two men who had confessed to their crimes.

They were brought to the hotel, where the room where Michaela was killed remains cordoned off.

Scores of tourists wandered past the two-storey thatched building as up to 30 local journalists recorded the proceedings.

Both men were in handcuffs as they were separately brought to the room and told to retrace their steps.

Mr Treebhoowoon was dressed in an orange T-shirt and navy tracksuit bottoms while Mr Moneea wore a white T-shirt, combat trousers, and orange flip flops.

The reconstruction -- which took place out of sight -- lasted less than an hour.

"Treeboowoon told him not to say anything about it," said Police Commissioner, Dhun Ishwar Ramparsad about why Mr Theekoy had not spoken out before.

"Now the investigators are trying to match what he is saying with the timing of the events."

The reconstruction took place a short time after a Mass was held at the hotel.

Aisha Mosaheb, who handles corporate communications for the Legends Group, said the staff had initiated the Mass, which was attended by up to 100 workers and guests.

It was also attended by a local priest, as well as by an Irish priest who lives on the island.

Neither Mr McAreavey nor other family members attended.

Ms Mosaheb said the hotel had "beefed up security" and kept all residents updated on the investigation.

If convicted of murder, the accused will be jailed for life.

It would be 30 to 40 years before parole was granted and this would be dependent on behaviour while in prison.

A barrister said that they could choose whether to have their trial determined by a jury, or just a judge.

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