Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Michaela McAreavey murder trial jury retires

John and Michaela McAreavey outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.

A jury has retired to consider its verdicts in the trial of two hotel workers accused of murdering honeymooner Michaela McAreavey in Mauritius.

Judge Prithviraj Fecknah asked the nine jurors to begin their deliberations after he directed them on relevant legal issues at the Supreme Court in Port Louis.

The daughter of Tyrone gaelic football manager Mickey Harte was found strangled in her room at the luxury Legends hotel on the island last January.

Former staff members Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea deny her murder.

The prosecution claims they attacked the 27-year-old teacher when she interrupted them stealing in the room, having momentarily left her husband John at a poolside restaurant to fetch biscuits.

The newly-wed's widower was in court as Justice Fecknah made his directions, which took more than four hours.

He was accompanied in the front row of the public gallery by his father Brendan, sister Claire and brother-in-law Mark Harte.

The judge told jurors at the Supreme Court in Port Louis they must take at least two hours to deliberate.

"You are not to feel pressure in any way because of time factor," he said.

"You will take all the time you feel is necessary to deal with the issues."

In a lengthy speech he set out the prosecution cases against the accused and their defence.

In conclusion, he thanked jurors for their efforts and stressed that the onus was firmly on the prosecution to prove the guilt of the men.

"There's no onus on the accused parties," he said.

"Under our constitution there is the presumption of innocence. Their guilt has to be proved by the prosecution and it has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

"You will keep that in mind before you deliberate."

Treebhoowoon, 32, from Plaine de Roches, worked as a room attendant at Legends while Moneea, 43, from Petit Raffray, was his floor supervisor.

They were arrested at the hotel the day after the murder.