Belfast Telegraph

Solicitor of hotel worker acquitted in Michaela McAreavey murder trial joins call for a new police inquiry

John and Michaela
John and Michaela
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

A solicitor who defended one of the men acquitted in the Michaela McAreavey murder trial in 2012 has joined the call for police in Mauritius to reinvestigate the case.

Mrs McAreavey, daughter of Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte, was murdered while on honeymoon at a luxury resort on the idyllic Indian Ocean island in January 2011.

Two hotel workers, Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea, were later arrested in connection with the death of Mrs McAreavey (27), who was found strangled in the bath of her hotel suite after returning alone to her room following lunch.

Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, who had defended Mr Treebhoowoon, described the initial investigation into the murder as the worst ever carried out by police in Mauritius.

"They failed to carry out a proper inquiry and they rushed to find two scapegoats," he said.

"They tortured my client. They obtained a confession through torture and violence and the confession was a physical impossibility for things to have happened in that way.

"It was an incredible story so that the confession was completely disregarded by the jury.

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"The police made catastrophic failures. We asked the authorities during the trial to restart a new inquiry. A new inquiry should happen."

The demand for a new inquiry comes as John McAreavey launched a new podcast about the murder and said his family are certain the two men who were acquitted were responsible.

Mr McAreavey, who has since remarried, said his quest for justice will not end until those responsible have been jailed.

Sanjeev Teeluckdharry
Sanjeev Teeluckdharry

He returned to the paradise island in April 2017 and offered a reward of 2m Mauritian rupees (£44,000) for new information, but that failed to lead to a breakthrough in the investigation.

"The next time I'd like to go back to Mauritius is to attend a trial," said Mr McAreavey.

"The evidence is just so strong. We are so certain that the men who were acquitted were responsible and that is why we really wanted to talk about the depth of the evidence in the podcast," said Mr McAreavey.

Solicitor Mr Teeluckdharry responded, saying he would have to consult with his client before he could comment further.

Mr McAreavey said his family had now spent nearly nine years working with the Mauritian authorities to get justice for Michaela.

He hopes the podcast, called Murder in Mauritius, will shine a light on elements that have never been revealed and what the family went through in attending the 2012 trial, revealing he originally had faith that the jury would deliver a guilty verdict.

"They came across as balanced people and the strength of the evidence was so strong it didn't matter what else anybody said, the evidence is there and these people have listened to the evidence.

"For them to return a unanimous verdict of not guilty, it sunk my heart.

"I felt stupid because I thought 'how did I ever think that we would ever get justice here?'

"There was an 'us against them' mentality in the court, spread by the defence.

"They painted this image of these white wealthy westerners coming in against these poor impoverished men that were just plucked up because they were to be held responsible. That was the narrative that they scripted and the defence team did a good job at that."

Michaela McAreavey's family have now called on the Irish government to approach the Mauritian authorities.

"For them to just park everything, to ignore me because I'm in Ireland and I'm out of sight and out of mind isn't good enough," said Mr McAreavey.

"I would like our political representatives on this island to ask what is happening with this case and what are you going to do?"

"They can ignore me but they can't ignore our political representatives in Ireland."

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