Belfast Telegraph

Michaela McAreavey: Families still waiting for justice so cruelly denied

 

By Alison Fleming

This was a murder inquiry that was flawed from the outset, denying Michaela's family any hope of justice in the subsequent trial of the two men accused of her murder.

From the inept and often farcical police investigation, the extent of which was revealed in court, to the failure to carry out even the most basic DNA testing and allegations of police brutality meant a conviction and justice for Michaela was denied.

Read More: Family offers £43,000 reward in the hunt for her killer in Mauritius

I travelled to Mauritius in the aftermath of Michaela's murder and met with police chiefs who assured me that the right men were behind bars. Rather than backing up their case with solid facts and watertight evidence, they seemed more intent on creating a showcase of their skills.

A reconstruction was staged at the Legend's Resort, now renamed Lux, following the brutal killing. One of those suspected to be involved, hotel worker Raj Theekoy, was paraded in front of the cameras for the world to see. He was later granted immunity in return for his testimony against Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Monea. The lengthy trial in 2012 revealed a catalogue of missed opportunities by police to secure solid evidence against the two men.

Originally scheduled to last two weeks, it took more than two months to reach a conclusion, not least because of the painstaking cross examination by the two defence lawyers.

It was revealed 39 items were taken from the couple's room but not all of them were sent for forensic examination. One of the officers testifying told how a purse found in the room - which police claimed Treebhoowoon was rifling through when he was disturbed - was never fingerprinted.

Police failed to wear anti-contamination suits while working and no forensic evidence was found to link either of the defendants to the scene, despite harrowing testimonies from medical experts who told how Michaela had fought for her life.

Against this backdrop, the McAreavey and Harte families must now rely on new evidence and witness testimony to secure a conviction, and their hope will be that the reward will entice someone to come forward with the information that will grant them and Michaela the justice they've been so cruelly denied.

Alison Fleming is a former UTV journalist who covered the Michaela McAreavey murder in Mauritius

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