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Murder accused Sandip Moonea at the Supreme Court in Port Louis. Paul Faith/PA Wire
Mauritius

Michaela accused denies being in hotel room at time of murder

In his statements to police, Sandip Moneea denied involvement in the murder and said that he himself had called for medical assistance.

ONE OF THE two hotel workers accused of murdering 27-year-old Michaela McAreavey at a hotel in Mauritius during her honeymoon last year has denied being in the room at the time of her killing.

McAreavey was strangled to death in the room she and her husband John McAreavey were staying in at the Legends Hotel. The two accused deny killing her.

Today, the trial heard that murder accused Sandip Moneea, 42, gave five statements to the police and that he repeatedly denied any involvement in the crime. His testimony was read out in court today by an inspector from the Major Crimes Investigation Team.

Moneea told investigators from the MCIT that he had personally called the Legends Hotel reception to seek medical assistance following the discovery of the Tyrone woman’s body on the afternoon of 10 January 2011 in room 1025. At the time of the killing, Moneea was a supervisor of the block of rooms where the McAreaveys were staying and was responsible for five room attendants, including his co-accused Avinash Treebhoowoon and witnesses Raj Theekoye and Govinden Saminaden.

He told police that he was working on another room at a distance from room 1025. He said that he saw the hotel manager Brice Lunot running down the hall, saying that there was a problem in room 1025.

Moneea said that he followed Lunot and that when he arrived at the room, he saw a woman lying on the floor. Lunot tried to revive her and Moneea called the hotel reception to seek medical assistance, he told police.

He also said that the had given Treebhoowoon permission to clean the room despite there being a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door. Before giving that permission, he said he had phoned the room to check that there was nobody there. In his statement, Treebhoowoon told police that when he tried to clean the room earlier that day, John McAreavey had told him to come back in five minutes. When he came back, he said that no one responded to his knocks on the door and he requested permission from his supervisor to clean the room.

In a confession that he later said was given under duress and police brutality, Treebhoowoon said that Moneea had encouraged him to participate in the murder. Moneea told police that he did not know why his colleague had said such a thing.

The court also heard the cross-examination of police inspector Ranjit Jokhoo who said that apart from an Indian couple, no other guests staying near the McAreaveys were questioned. He also said he could not recollect which room numbers were close to room 1025.

Later this evening, MCIT sergeant Dinesh Balgobin testified that on the instruction of the chief inspector leading the investigation, he asked Treebhoowoon to give a statement to police after a court appearance on 4 February. Treebhoowoon refused, saying he would only do so in front of his legal counsel, but the sergeant said that he did not inform counsel of this.

The trial continues tomorrow.

Witness claims one of accused men was with him on day of Michaela killing >

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Author
Ajai Daby in Mauritius