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Case closed, but Michaela killer remains at large 10 years later

 

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John and Michaela McAreavey

John and Michaela McAreavey

John and Michaela McAreavey

Nearly a decade after her death, Mauritian police have officially closed the latest probe into the murder of Michaela McAreavey and are no closer to bringing her killers to justice.

An investigation into the killing announced in August has found no fresh evidence to warrant a new trial or a retrial before a jury, the Mauritian Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Office told the Herald.

"We have been informed by the Commissioner of Police that the police has closed its inquiry into the killing of Michaela Harte as no fresh evidence has been detected by the new inquiry which could have warranted a reopening/retrial of the case before a jury," said Mehdi Manrakhan, a senior assistant to the DPP.

Mr Manrakhan was the solicitor who represented the Mauritian state in the 2012 trial of two hotel workers who were charged and later acquitted of the murder.

"The DPP has no further comments to make in the circumstances," he added.

Hopes of a breakthrough in the case were raised during the summer.

It emerged that a team of investigators were looking at the circumstances of the 27-year-old teacher's death as part of renewed efforts to bring her killer or killers to justice.

Mystery

This was viewed by many as a last-ditch attempt by the Mauritian authorities to bring some closure to the long- running mystery.

Speaking at the time, a lawyer for the McAreavey and Harte families, Dick Ng Sui Wa, told the Herald a new team of investigators had taken over the case "some time ago" and he hoped an update on their work would be available in the coming weeks.

The case was being investigated by a team within the country's Central Criminal Investigation Department.

News of the decision by the police commissioner to close the inquiry into the case comes nearly a decade after the murder of the newlywed stunned the nation.

Ms McAreavey, who was only days into the second leg of her honeymoon with husband John, was found strangled in the bath after returning alone to her suite at the former Legends Hotel in Grand Gaube, Mauritius, on January 10, 2011.

Two hotel workers, Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea, were charged with the murder but acquitted in July 2012.

The prosecution case was that Ms McAreavey had stumbled upon an attempt to steal money from a purse that had been seen by cleaner Treebhoowoon the previous day.

He was allegedly assisted in his crime by hotel supervisor Moneea, who was accused of strangling Ms McAreavey from behind when she caught them both in the act.

A post-mortem examination showed she had died from asphyxia due to compression of the neck.

Following the discovery of Ms McAreavey's body by her husband, a series of arrests quickly followed, as did a well-documented trial.

Treebhoowoon and Moneea were ultimately acquitted amid claims of a botched inquiry led by a team of officers looking for Scapegoats.

There were allegations of police brutality and forced confessions.

No DNA linking the two men to the crime scene was ever found, and the credibility of the star witness, a hotel worker who was originally charged in connection with the murder, was called into question.

From the outset, the case was littered with evidential inconsistencies.

Of 39 pieces of evidence from the room, very few had been DNA-tested, including Ms McAreavey's purse, which was supposed to have been the focus of the robbery, according to the prosecution.

The police had accidentally destroyed 98pc of the CCTV evidence from the hotel's 46 cameras because they could not work the machines.

The central piece of evidence, the stolen master keycard used to enter the couple's room, was never found.

Safe

However, a dummy key card was found in the hotel's security office where the genuine card should have been.

It bore the DNA of Dassen Narayanen (28), the security officer who had been working at the hotel for four years.

His DNA was also found on the guest safe in room 1025. Narayanen denied any involvement in Ms McAreavey's death.

January 10 will mark the 10th anniversary of the murder.

Unless new evidence comes to light, by their action in releasing a statement shutting down hopes of a new trial the Mauritian authorities appear to have closed the door on a case that may never now be solved.

Ms McAreavey was the only daughter of former Tyrone county GAA team manager Mickey Harte.

She and her husband were college sweethearts who met when they were both studying in Belfast in 2005.

Three years later, the couple got engaged in Paris and started planning their wedding.

On December 30, 2010, the couple exchanged vows in front of 300 family and friends.

The following morning, Mickey Harte drove them to Dublin Airport, from where they caught a flight to Dubai for the first leg of their honeymoon.

They spent several days there before leaving for Mauritius on January 8.

A reward of two million Mauritian rupees (€45,000) was offered for new information, but that failed to lead to a breakthrough in the investigation.


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