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A general view of the Banyon poolside restaurant at the Lux hotel. Jurors visited the scene of the crime today. PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Michaela murder trial: prosecution closes case after hotel visit

The court heard today that the bellboy who accompanied John McAreavey to his room when his wife’s body was discovered cannot be called as a witness as he is working on a cruise ship.

THE PROSECUTION IN the Michaela McAreavey murder trial has closed its case today just under a month since proceedings began.

Earlier today, the main players in the trial visited the Legends hotel where the 27-year-old teacher was strangled to death 17 months ago. Both of the men accused of her murder and their lawyers were present during the visit, as was the judge Prithviraj Fekna, prosecution counsel and the nine members of the jury.

Avinash Treebhowon and Sandip Moneea took part in the guided tour of the premises of the Legends hotel, which was renamed Lux Grand Gaube after the tragic killing of the only daughter of Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte.

The lawyers for the men, who both plead not guilty, filed a motion in the Port Louis court last week to have the visit arranged. They believe it is important that the jury have a better idea of places mentioned so far during court sittings.

Michaela McAreavey and her new husband John were honeymooning at the hotel when she was found dead in Room 1025 on 10 January 2011. The prosecution argues that she was strangled by the accused after she found them stealing.

The prosecution did not object to today’s visit so at about 10.30am, the group left the court and headed for the property which had been barricaded to prevent access to any unauthorised persons. Public and press were not allowed on the premises.

Police and bailiffs of the Supreme Court were first to arrive on the scene, followed by lawyers for the prosecution and a vehicle carrying the two accused. Jury members were brought in one mini-bus. Judge Fekna and the defence lawyers were the last to appear.

During the tour, which was guided by hotel staff, the nine members of the jury had the opportunity to examine the golf course, reception, two restaurants and the rooms surrounding room 1025 in the De Luxe block.

Altogether, the tour lasted about an hour-and-a-half before the procession returned to court.

Questioned afterwards by the judge, the two defendants said they had no comments to make about the tour. Counsel for both parties and the jury said they were satisfied with the morning and the visit now forms part of the evidence of the case before the court.

Important witness

The hearing continued. Treebhoowon’s counsel put in a request for the bellboy who accompanied John McAreavey to his room when his wife’s body was discovered be called as a witness for the defence. However, lead counsel for the prosecution declared that Omdev Bhujun (alias Rajeev) is now working on a cruise boat and could not be contacted, despite efforts.

In view of this development, defence lawyer Sanjeev Teeluckdharry asked for the statements of the bellboy, particularly the one made on 1 February 2011, be produced in court as evidence.

Judge Fekna asked the counsel to bring this request when tendering his summons list for witnesses.

Following this, prosecution lawyers said they had no further evidence and were closing their case.

Teeluckdharry then submitted his final list of witnesses for the defence. The judge has set aside tomorrow for a day of legal arguments after issues were raised over the proposed witness list.

Read more about the Michaela McAreavey case>

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