Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 30 October 2014

Newleywed 'killed by strangulation'

Michaela McAreavey and her husband John on their wedding day (Irish Times/PA)

Honeymooner Michaela McAreavey was strangled during a violent struggle in her hotel room that lasted around two minutes, a court in Mauritius has been told.

A doctor who examined the Co Tyrone teacher following her death also told the trial of the men accused of her murder that DNA traces might have been washed off her body when she was dumped into running water.

The daughter of Tyrone gaelic football manager Mickey Harte was found in the bathtub of her deluxe room in the luxury Legends Hotel on the island in January last year. Former hotel employees Avinash Treebhoowoon, 31, and Sandip Moneea, 42, deny her murder.

Dr Sunil Kumar Gungadin said the 27-year-old newlywed was strangled manually by hand and forearm and ruled out the use of a ligature. The 18th day of the high profile case in the Supreme Court in Port Louis was also told that CCTV images from the hotel were set to be played to the jury.

A defence lawyer asked a senior police officer to bring to court on Friday footage that covers a 35-minute period on the day of the crime and an hour from the day before. No other details of the images were outlined to the nine jurors.

Dr Gungadin, chief medical officer for the police, performed an autopsy on Mrs McAreavey about six hours after she was found dead. He told the jury the time of death was in a half hour window between 2.30pm and 3pm on January 10 2011.

The prosecution claims the defendants murdered Mrs McAreavey at around 2.45pm when she walked in and disturbed them stealing. The doctor said the cause of death was "asphyxia due to compression of neck".

The trial adjourned early as preparations were made to have screens erected to play CCTV footage from Legends. Giving evidence at the trial, assistant commissioner of police Yoosoof Soopun was asked by Mr Valayden to bring the material to the court on Friday.

Judge Fecknah told Mr Soopun to return to court with the footage on Friday morning, when it would be broadcast. "We will make arrangements for projectors and screens to be brought in," said the judge.

Mr Valayden asked for footage from 2.55pm to 3.30pm on the day of the murder - January 10 - and 11am to 12pm the previous day. No other details about the CCTV images were heard in court.

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