Belfast Telegraph

Michaela murder trial lawyer walks out of court over 'attack on his integrity'

By David Young

The Michaela McAreavey murder trial has been adjourned after a lawyer representing one of the accused withdrew from the case.

During the testimony of Ravi Rutnah, a prosecution witness made a series of claims against the lawyer. He said he was late arriving for a meeting with his client two days after the murder and later shared food - fried rice - with police officers.

Mr Rutnah, representing Avinash Treebhoowoon, said he had been subject to an attack on his professional integrity.

"As a direct consequence of that, I have decided to withdraw representing accused number one," he said.

The judge adjourned the trial for the day after the defence tendered a list of additional witnesses on the back of the shock development.

Mr Rutnah is one of the proposed new witnesses.

Earlier, a detailed confession statement given to police by Treebhoowoon was read to the court.

In it the 31-year-old admitted his part in killing the daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football boss Mickey Harte in her hotel room at the island's luxury Legends Hotel last January.

The confession statement made by the accused three days after the murder was today read to a packed court in Port Louis by a senior detective who interviewed him at the time.

Treebhoowoon told Chief Inspector Luciano Gerard that Mrs McAreavey had disturbed him and his co-accused Sandip Moneea, 42, as they were burgling the room of her and her husband John, the court heard.

Mr Gerard read the accused's statement to the jury.

In it, Treebhoowoon said: "As soon as she entered she saw the wallet in my hand.

"At that time I was still near the dressing table and she was about a metre away from me.

"She shouted and told me 'what are you doing, what are you searching...'.

"She seemed angry. I got scared and at that time Sandip was still in the bathroom.

"The woman came closer to me. I tried to go in the direction of the door but she stopped me.

"Then with my right hand I pushed her and she fell on her back.

"I think at that time she must have seen Sandip. She was screaming and I told Sandip, 'Let's stop her from screaming'.

"At the time she was on the floor she was not injured.

"I grabbed her feet with my two arms and Sandip came next to her and sat and with one hand, left or right, I cannot remember, pressed on her neck to stop her from screaming, and with the other hand he pressed on her shoulders.

"He continued to press for a minute at the neck. While he was pressing she was struggling and he continued to press until she lost consciousness.

"She was breathing but she couldn't talk."

The defendant then told police his co-accused said they had to kill her, so she could not identify them.

He told officers that they carried her into the bathroom, dumped her in the bath, turned on the water and attempted to wash fingerprints off her.

They then left the room and went and hid.

Treebhoowoon has subsequently claimed the admission was forced out of him by police brutality.

He and Moneea both deny murdering the 27-year-old teacher from Co Tyrone.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph