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Prosecution witness Raj Theekoy outside the court today. Paul Faith/PA Wire
Michaela McAreavey

Michaela McAreavey trial hears police failed to interview hotel guests

Court told that guests who wanted to make a statement were not interviewed by police.

THE TRIAL OF TWO men for the murder of Michaela McAreavey was told today that police failed to interview other hotel guests who had wanted to make a statement.

Hotel workers Avinash Treebhoowoon, 30, and Sandip Moneea, 42, are being tried for the 27-year-old Tyrone woman’s murder; both deny the charges.

Under cross-examination by the defence today, Chief Inspector Luciano Gerard said that he had not interviewed all of the residents in rooms close to the McAreaveys’ room.

He told the court that he failed to meet a German couple who arrived in the hotel on the day of the murder and occupied a room just above the McAreaveys’ room.

The couple had told a security officer that they had seen certain things, according to the defence counsel.

The nursing officer who was the first medical person to see the deceased, Dinesh Sowdagur, was also not interviewed by police and neither was the hotel doctor.

Gerard also said that he did not view video footage from all of the five cameras of the hotel, just those of the deluxe block where the McAreaveys were staying. He also agreed that he did not see video footage of two former suspects Raj Teekoye and Dassen Narayanan.

Gerard also did not note which police officer was on sentry at gate on the 10 January and he did not asked for a list of vehicles which left or entered the hotel. He was also not aware of which type of magnetic card was given to the McAreaveys, which was different to that found in the room.

The officer also said that he did not arrange for the readings of the card to be examined because the card was “secured”. He admitted he was not aware that the card lasts for just one month.

Gerard also said that no one had informed him that after the room was returned by the police to the hotel management, certain objects were found, such as a red bikini in a drawer under the wardrobe, a multicolour belt and the receipt of a packet of biscuits.

The cross examination ended with the officer being shown a photograph of fingerprints taken in the McAreavey’s room. Gerard admitted having seen these and said that the fingerprints were not those of the victim or any of the suspects. No investigation was done to determine to whom they belong.

During his testimony to the court, Gerard claimed to have only considered the confession of Avinash Treebhowon in his investigation. He said he had not found it necessary to consult the report of Cellmark DNA laboratories in England, nor the Forensic Science Laboratory.

According to police, Treebhoowoon had already confessed to being involved in the killing.

The chief inspector Gerard also said that the questioning of Treebhoowoon took place in the absence of his lawyer at the time, Ravi Rutnah, which defence counsel said was a violation of the suspect’s fundamental rights.

The trial resumes on Monday.

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Ajai Daby in Mauritius