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Michaela McAreavey accused 'faked suicide scene in hotel room'


John McAreavey and his late wife Michaela McAreavey

John McAreavey and his late wife Michaela McAreavey

John McAreavey and his late wife Michaela McAreavey

A crime scene photograph of the half-full bath allegedly used by Michaela McAreavey's killers to make her death look like suicide was yesterday shown in court.

The image was revealed to the court in Mapou, Mauritius, as it finally began to hear evidence yesterday - four days into the preliminary hearing into her murder.

Avinash Treebhoowon (30) and Sandip Moneea (41) both deny murdering 27-year-old Michaela as she honeymooned with her husband John McAreavey at the Legends Hotel on the Indian Ocean island on January 10.

The case had been stalled by the defence which lodged an application with the Mauritian Supreme Court to have magistrate Sheila Bonomally removed from the hearing.

They had alleged that she was not impartial because she granted bail to one of the accused men, but not the other.

However, Ms Bonomally told the court yesterday that she had received a fax from the Supreme Court that morning advising her that the hearing should go ahead pending the decision.

Giving evidence, counsel for the defence presented a picture of the bath that Michaela was found in, taken by police photographer Satish Jeewooth.

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The black-and-white picture showed the Jacuzzi bath in room 1025 of the hotel half-filled with water.

It is alleged that the killers of Michaela (below) placed her in the bath after strangling her to make it look like she had taken her own life.

Asked under cross-examination if he had asked whether the water was at that level before he arrived and took the photo, Mr Jeewooth said he had not.

He also admitted that he had not taken pictures of the footprints in the sand at the seafront outside the room, adding that he had not been asked to do so. Two officers who charged the accused men of the murder appeared in court to give evidence. Both of the accused men were advised of their constitutional rights and both denied the murder, the court was told.

In a statement read in Creole, Treebhoowon said that he was not aware of the crime, was innocent, and alleged he was beaten up by police before being forced to sign a confession.

His counsel Ravi Rutnah also claimed he suffered police intimidation.

Moneea claimed that he was unaware of the crime and said that he was innocent.

Defence counsel also repeatedly questioned police draughtsman Rajen Hurgobin about the distances between different areas of the hotel and Michaela's room. Mr Hurgobin was responsible for drawing up police sketches of the hotel and surrounding area.

It is understood that the defence is hoping to question the validity of accounts of the timing of events based on the distances, including the account made by Mr McAreavey.

Mr Hurgobin admitted that he had not noted the distance from the room to the nearest CCTV camera.

Prosecution 'star witness' Raj Theekoy appeared in court for the second time yesterday only to be told he would have to wait until today to provide his evidence.

Legends Hotel bell boy Rajiv Bhujan and Det ective Inspector Ranjit Jokhoo, who investigated the case, were also due to give evidence to the court today.

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