herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Michaela's purse was 'not dusted for prints'

TRIAL: Suspect claimed bride's cash was target, jury told

NO fingerprint tests were carried out on a purse found in the room in which Michaela McAreavey was murdered during an alleged botched burglary, a police officer has told a court in Mauritius.

Hotel worker Avinash Treebhoowoon signed a confession admitting the crime in which he claimed he was rifling through a purse when the honeymooner unexpectedly returned to her room in the luxury Legends Hotel on the holiday island.

Treebhoowoon (31) had since insisted the statement was beaten out of him. He and fellow Legends employee Sandip Moneea (42) deny murdering the daughter of Tyrone gaelic football boss Mickey Harte last January.



Error

Their trial heard yesterday that a black purse found on the dresser of the room -- 1025 --was not dusted for prints.

Police Sergeant Mohammad Dhonye made the revelation at the Supreme Court in Port Louis under cross-examination by a lawyer for Moneea, Rama Valayden.

"Was the black purse found on the dresser table fingerprinted?" the barrister asked.

"No, my lord," Mr Dhonye replied.

Day 14 of the high-profile case began with the announcement that Mrs McAreavey's widower John would not be returning to the witness box to give further evidence.

The prosecution had been considering whether to officially apply for his recall after he indicated he had made an error during his testimony.

The trial also heard from a police officer who says he heard Treebhoowoon tell his father "forget your son now, I have made a mistake" when he visited him at a police station days after the murder.

Sergeant Mohammad Bhugaloo rejected a claim by the defendant's lawyer Sanjeev Teeluckdharry that his client was referring to a family fall-out, not Mrs McAreavey's death.

Another officer who probed a complaint of police brutality lodged by Treebhoowoon's former barrister Ravi Rutnah also took the stand, as did a room service attendant at Legends who claimed he saw both accused in the vicinity of room 1025 around 20 minutes before the murder allegedly happened.

Earlier, Mr Dhonye insisted many items and surfaces in the room where Mrs McAreavey was found strangled in the bathtub were tested.

"We tested on places likely to be touched," he told the judge. "Not the whole room but where people were likely to touch."

In the alleged confession, Treebhoowoon said he spotted a purse on the dresser with a number of Mauritian rupee notes sticking out and urged Moneea that they should take some and spilt it, the court heard. The trial continues.

hnews@herald.ie

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