Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Hotel room 'had no DNA of accused'

Avinash Treebhoowoon, 30, arrives at the Supreme Court in Port Louis, Mauritius, where he will stand trial accused of strangling Michaela McAreavey

Forensic tests on the body of Michaela McAreavey found no DNA from the two men accused of murdering her, their trial in Mauritius has heard.

Swabs taken from the hotel room where the honeymooner was strangled and sent to the UK for analysis did not contain genetic material belonging to hotel employees Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea, the jury was told.

The 27-year-old daughter of Tyrone gaelic football manager Mickey Harte was found dead in the bath of her and her husband John's room in the luxury Legends Hotel on the island last January.

The fifth day of the trial heard that the teacher may have died from neck injuries sustained from an armlock, rather than strangulation by the hands, and that initial reports she had a head injury were incorrect.

The crime scene samples were handed to Cellmark Forensic Services lab in England for testing. Cellmark expert Susan Woodroffe was also asked to examine whether the DNA of two other original suspects in the case, fellow Legends employees Raj Theekoy and Dassen Naraynen, was present on the samples.

Giving evidence to the criminal court in the Mauritian capital Port Louis, Ms Woodroffe noted that unidentified genetic traces other than Mrs McAreavey's or her husband John's were found on the samples.

But in relation to samples taken from Mrs McAreavey's neck, feet and fingernails, she told the court: "There is no specific indication that any of Raj Theekoy, Sandip Moneea, Avinash Treebhoowoon or Dassen Naraynen have contributed to the results obtained."

Genetic material not belonging to Mrs McAreavey or her widower was found on a sample taken from her head. Ms Woodroffe said that if it was from a sole contributor then all four men could be ruled out.

The forensics specialist told the court that DNA samples left on the victim's body could have washed off when she was placed in the bath water.

Treebhoowoon, 30, and Moneea, 42, deny the premeditated murder of the Irish language teacher.

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