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Hairs at Michaela murder site were never analysed

POLICE discovered hair in the bathtub where murdered bride Michaela McAreavey was dumped but they never sent it to a forensics team, it has emerged.

The Herald can reveal that this piece of evidence collected two days after the teacher's murder in Mauritius was never sent for examination to the UK, despite being one of the surest ways to identify DNA.

Michaela (27) was strangled in her honeymoon suite at the Legends Hotel in Grand Gaube on January 10 last.

Her husband John discovered her body in the bathtub of their suite, room 1025.

A statement, which the Herald has seen, reveals that investigators took a "sample of hairs" from the bathroom on the day.

The item was mentioned by police sergeant Dhonye Mohammad Reiaz on the statement he made at the Scene of Crime Office.

"With the help of hotel maintenance officers I filtered the water in bathtub and at the end of which I secured, packed, labelled and coded exhibit RD37: Sample of hairs taken in bathtub [of] bathroom," the statement reads.

Sgt Reiaz also confirms that he left a number of items, including RD37 at the Forensic Science Laboratory "for analysis and reports" on January 12.

The Herald can reveal that while Sgt Reiaz travelled to London on January 31 with several exhibits to be analysed by the Cellmark Forensic Services, RD37 was not among them.

Two hotel staff members, floor supervisor Sandip Moneea (41) and room attendant Avinash Treebohowon (30) have been charged with the murder of the former Rose of Tralee contestant. According to the prosecution, Treebohowon confessed to the killing and implicated his colleague.

Investigators believe that Michaela had returned to the room and was attacked when she caught the two stealing.

However, Treebohowon's lawyers have insisted that his statement was not valid as it was made under duress.

A District Court magistrate nonetheless ruled that there was enough evidence for them to be tried at the Supreme Court in the near future.

However, it emerged during the hearing, that police had no DNA evidence that could link the murder to the two suspects.

A witness statement provided by Susan Woodroffe, a forensic scientist employed by Cellmark Forensic Services in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, found no traces of Moneea or Treebohowon's DNA on items provided by the police.

Former Mauritian Minister for Justice, Rama Valayden, who took over Moneea's defence last month, told the Herald that this piece of evidence should have been examined.

"Whether this hair belongs to Michaela or not, it should have been sent for forensic analysis because it's the easiest and surest way to identify DNA.

"There are big question marks on this case," he said.

hnews@herald.ie