Belfast Telegraph

McAreavey husband 'branded suspect'

The husband of murdered honeymooner Michaela McAreavey was described as a suspect in police logs in the hours after she was found dead, a court in Mauritius has heard.

But senior police officer Inspector Sunilduth Nucchedy, who was involved in the investigation, told the trial of two hotel workers accused of strangling the Co Tyrone teacher that he did not know why that term, and the word accused, was used when referring to John McAreavey in official records.

Avinash Treebhoowoon, 30, and Sandip Moneea, 42, deny murdering the 27-year-old daughter of Tyrone gaelic football boss Mickey Harte at the island's luxury Legends Hotel last January.

A day after a forensic expert from England revealed that no DNA from the two defendants was found on the dead honeymooner, a local Mauritian scientist told the court that tests carried out in labs on the island also did not find genetic material from the men on swabs from her body.

The trial at the Supreme Court in Port Louis also heard that another Legends employee who alleges he saw the defendants leave the crime scene did not inform police about his claims originally. It emerged that a bellboy who was one of the first at the room after the murder, and who was due to give evidence, has left Mauritius and police do not know where he is. Meanwhile elsewhere on the island the only other man currently charged in relation with the crime - fellow Legends employee Dassen Naraynen - appeared in another court facing a provisional charge of conspiracy to commit larceny in connection with the McAreavey case.

Mrs McAreavey was found dead shortly after lunching with her husband by the pool at Legends. The prosecution claim she returned to her room to fetch biscuits for her tea and caught the accused stealing in her room.

The police log entries which referred to Mr McAreavey as a suspect also revealed that a police sentry had been placed outside the room he stayed in the night after his wife died. But responding to questions from defence counsel Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, representing Treebhoowoon, Mr Nucchedy said the officer was sent to the door of the room to fulfil victim support duties.

Mr Nucchedy, who was one of the first senior officers at the crime scene, revealed that police were originally told someone had drowned at the hotel, but it became clear it was murder when they arrived. He said the room was in a "slightly disturbed" state - an impression he gleaned from the bed sheets, an open suitcase and clothes lying here and there.

Barrister for Moneea, Rama Valayden, asked whether the officer had found a shoe print on the bed sheets in the room. Mr Nucchedy said he spotted a dirty mark on the sheets but did not think it was a footprint.

Mr McAreavey's father Brendan and sister Claire watched from the public gallery of the criminal court. The widower has returned to the island but is unable to attend court proceedings until he gives evidence as a prosecution witness.

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