Belfast Telegraph

Lawyer quits honeymoon murder trial

The trial of two hotel workers accused of murdering Michaela McAreavey has been rocked after a lawyer dramatically withdrew from the case and signalled his intent to appear as a witness.

Ravi Rutnah, a barrister for defendant Avinash Treebhoowoon, told the court in Mauritius he was stepping down after claiming a senior police officer had attacked his professional integrity while giving evidence.

In a final flourish before leaving the Supreme Court in Port Louis, the lawyer declared to the jury that he would be back in "Arnold Schwarzenegger style".

The development has left a cloud of uncertainty hanging over proceedings, pending legal submissions on Thursday morning.

It came after prosecution witness Chief Inspector Luciano Gerard outlined to the court how Treebhoowoon had confessed to murdering the daughter of Tyrone gaelic football boss Mickey Harte along with co-worker Sandip Moneea in her room at the island's luxury Legends Hotel last January.

In the statement, the accused asked for forgiveness and said they had only intended to steal from the 27-year-old teacher's room, but killed her when she came back unexpectedly and caught them red-handed.

"If the woman did not come we would have stole the money," he told police.

"We don't know her, we had no reason to kill her, because she saw us we had to kill her."

As well as reading the defendant's admission statement - which described in graphic detail the tragic honeymooner's last moments as she fought for her life - Mr Gerard made a series of claims about Mr Rutnah.

Treebhoowoon, a room attendant at Legends, has subsequently claimed the admission he made to police was forced out of him by violent means. He and Moneea denying murdering the Co Tyrone woman.

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