THE THREE suspects in the Michaela McAreavey murder were caught on CCTV cameras arguing just moments after she was killed.
The camera footage was the first key in the chain of evidence for police in Mauritius at the beginning of the investigation.
Abinash Treebhoowoon (29), a room attendant, has been charged with Michaela's murder along with Sandip Moneea (41), a floor supervisor during an apparent botched robbery.
The third accused, room attendant Raj Theekoy (33), was charged with conspiracy to murder.
Police Commissioner Dhun Ishwar Rampersad said that it was Treebhoowoon who originally came up with the plan to steal money and jewellery from Down footballer John (30) and Michaela's room.
“Over the previous two days he had spotted a wallet with a large amount of money in it lying in the room with some jewellery and he hatched a plan to steal it,” he said.
He told the floor supervisor, Mr Moneea, about the money and all three went to the floor where the honeymoon couple were staying. Mr Theekoy stayed outside the door while the other two men went inside, the police said.
But just moments later Michaela (27) returned to her room to get some biscuits to eat with her tea she was having with her new husband.
“They panicked when she came in,” police inspector Ranjid Jokhoo said.
“Abinash [Treebhoowoon] has admitted to us that he held her legs down and he says that Sandip [Moneea] tried to stop Michaela from screaming by covering her mouth and then strangling her.
“He is insisting that they did not intend to kill her. He is saying that it was unintentional. But that doesn't mean we will change the murder charge.”
Mr Treebhoowoon has allegedly already confessed to police that they were in the room with the intention to steal purses and jewellery.
He was brought to the room where Michaela died and showed police how he tackled the young woman.
He held her legs down in the bathroom and he told officers that Moneea covered Michaela's mouth and then pressed down on her neck.
Once the duo realised that she was dead, they lifted her body into the bath and turned on the tap in a desperate attempt to get rid of the evidence.
When they left the room, Theekoy demanded to know what had happened - he has also provided a re-enactment of what he saw happen on the day. Mr Moneea is expected to be brought to the hotel room today to outline his version of events.
The two accused of her murder could face at least 45 years in jail if convicted of premeditated murder. Theekoy could be sentenced for up to 18 years for conspiracy to commit a crime.