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Avinash Treebhoowon, 30, (right) and Sandip Mooneea, 42, at the Supreme Court in Port Louis today. Paul Faith/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Michaela murder trial: Defence lawyers accuse key witness of lying

He was also accused of drinking tea and joking with the accused shortly after the murder.

THE CROSS-EXAMINATION of key witness Raj Theekoye continued today with the defence team exposing many inconsistencies in his statement.

The former attendant at the Legends Hotel where Michaela McAreavey was murdered in January 2011 gave evidence yesterday which incriminated his two former colleagues, the accused Avinash Treebhoowon and Sandip Moneea.

He described to the court how he saw the two accused men leave room 1025 looking worried after hearing a woman scream three times.

However, according to lawyers for the defence, the witness talked with the younger of the two men Treebhoowon one hour after the murder of the 27-year-old Tyrone teacher. The court also heard claims that they joked about the newly-wed Moneea, 42, and how he was not in a hurry to go home.

The lawyers, Sanjeev My Teeluckdharry and Rama Valayden, accused Theekoye of lying to the court.

They noted several more inconsistencies in his testimony throughout their interrogation, as well as claiming that his wish to get out of prison influenced his statements to police.

They told the court that in a statement to police, Theekoye had denied ever being in the canteen of the Legends Hotel on the afternoon of 10 January. Valayden then brandished a photo of the surveillance camera shot of the witness in the canteen at 3.46pm on that fateful day. He also confirmed he was there in the company of Treebhoowon and other attendants.

The prosecution argues that the daughter of Tyrone football boss Mickey Harte was murdered after walking in on Moneea and Treebhoowoon as they were stealing from her room.

Theekoye said that after the murder he put himself in front of room 1021 to get a better view of what happened next in room 1025. He said he saw nobody at that moment but the defence counsel argued that the client of that room, with his two children, returned. The 34-year-old told the court that he did not think it necessary to inform anyone of the argument he had heard in room 1025.

The attendant also revealed that he made a call to his wife at about 2.47pm which lasted about a minute-and-a-half.

Contradicting a statement made yesterday, Theekoye said that although he had seen a cart in front of the McAreaveys’ room, he had not seen the name on the carriage.

Moving onto the 77 days that he spent in a police cell, Theekoye admitted he thought he was being charged with ‘conspiracy to murder’. He said that this charge was levelled against him when he was first arrested on 12 January but did not know that in four subsequent statements he gave there was no mention of it.

When pressed by counsel, the key witness also accepted that he gave a false version of what happened on 13 January. He had claimed previously that he started making his statement at the Major Crime Investigating Team on his own but was assisted by his lawyer Mr Ramchurn after about one quarter of it had been given. However, the court heard that the police registry shows that Ramchurn did not arrive until the very end of his statement.

Theekoye has said that he helped the police because he feared that he might be sued for not having assisted the lady who was screaming. He was found to have violated the rules of the hotel by not reporting the cries he heard on the afternoon of the murder. He said he believes it is because of his helping the police to find the truth that he was granted immunity.

The defence also tried to poke holes in Theekoye’s testimony about what he saw on the day of the crime. All the timings of his whereabouts in the statement did not tally with the readings registered by the magnetic card he was using that day.

Yesterday, he had said that he did not return his card to the hotel on 10 January but eventually conceded the opposite was true.

Lawyers also questioned his version of events that he had seen anyone leave the McAreaveys’ hotel room. “The accused were close to the chamber in 1025,” responded the witness.

Two other witnesses were also heard from today, including the first medical practitioner on the scene and a restaurant supervisor who had served the honeymooning couple that day.

Dr Paramachandra Sunassee said he did not pay attention to the environment of the room as he was more concerned about the lady lying on the floor. He confirmed that there were scratches on the right side of the victim’s neck.

The restaurant worker Marc Igance L’Olive said that he had taken an order for tea from Michaela at 2.40pm in the restaurant Banian but she left before it arrived. After twenty minutes, her husband signed the bill before leaving, he added.

The trial continues tomorrow with new witnesses, including John McAreavey, being called by prosecution.

Yesterday: ‘I heard a woman screaming three times’: witness in Michaela murder trial>

Read more from the Michaela McAreavey murder trial>

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