Belfast Telegraph

Honeymoon murder bride had plastic bag held over her head, Michaela McAreavey Harte autopsy reveals

By Eimear ni Bhraonain

A plastic bag was placed over Michaela McAreavey's head during her murder, a police autopsy report has found.

The report reveals new information about the killing of the 27-year-old daughter of Tyrone GAA boss Mickey Harte on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.

Other details include:

  • Laboratory tests were conducted on a plastic bag that was used to cover Ms McAreavey's head but no traces of the suspects' DNA were found.
  • She died from asphyxia due to compression of the neck.
  • It is not clear from the forensics report or police statements who removed the bag from Michaela’s head.
  • Michaela had several abrasions on the front of her neck, as well as small patches of bruises to the front of her neck and larger bruises over her right and left collarbone.
  • DNA from the nail cuttings and swabbed samples from her neck do not match samples taken from hotel workers who were initially named as suspects: Sandip Moneea, Avinash Treebhoowon, Dassen Narayanen or Raj Theekoy.

The reliability of DNA evidence is now being called into question as the hotel crime scene |was not preserved meticulously |by Mauritian police officers. Sandip Moneea (41) and Avinash Treebhoowon (30) appeared in Mapou District Court yesterday where a preliminary inquiry into Michaela's murder on January 10 is continuing.

The two men are accused of murdering her at her room in the luxury Legends hotel while she was on honeymoon with her husband John McAreavey.

Meanwhile, a third man, Dassen Narayanen (26), appeared in the court yesterday at a separate hearing and was charged |with conspiracy to larceny at the Legends Hotel on the date of Michaela's murder.

Mr Narayanen was working in the vicinity of room 1025 where the murder took place.

He had sought to change shifts on January 10. He asked his manager if he could be moved from manning the main security gate because he had a sore leg and needed to rest it. He asked to be moved to a position patrolling the area close to the crime scene.

Mr Narayanen had claimed earlier this year that he had seen a colleague — Seenarain Mungoo (39) — with an electronic key to the couple's room.

But he later confessed to having stolen the key himself.

The state prosecution have not yet included Mr Narayanen as a witness to the preliminary inquiry into the murder and it is not yet known if he will give evidence at the full hearing.

The fourth man, Mr Theekoy, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to murder because he heard screams but did not run to help. But the charge was dropped and he is now a star witness for the prosecution.

During the pre-trial hearing in the murder case yesterday, Mauritian police were accused of brutality by lawyers who claim their clients were beaten in custody.

The court heard the Director of Public Prosecutions in Mauritius has ordered that the allegations of police brutality be investigated.

But the accused will have to make formal complaints to the police before the matter can be probed.

Prosecution counsel for the state, Mehdi Choony, asked defence counsel for Avinash Treebhowon, Ravi Rutnah, to “seriously consider” the advice of the DPP to withdraw from the case as a defence barrister.

But Mr Rutnah replied that he was “shocked by the practices used by police to extract confessions” from his client.

The inquiry resumes tomorrow.

Belfast Telegraph


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