herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Michaela hotel row couple are German - police

THE couple seen arguing on CCTV footage around the time of Michaela McAreavey's death were German tourists, her murder trial heard today.

There were furious scenes as lawyers argued over the identity of the couple apparently seen arguing in the hotel shortly before the school teacher was discovered dead in her room.

In dramatic evidence, a senior police chief told the court that the couple shown was not John and Michaela.

Assistant commissioner Yoosoof Soopun said that he was "100 per cent sure" that they had been identified as holidaying Germans.

The exchanges between the German couple at the reception of the Legends Hotel were captured on CCTV the day the Co Tyrone teacher was strangled in her room in the luxury complex.

Claims made by the defence that the images were of John were completely rejected by the Harte and McAreavey families in a statement yesterday.

And during proceedings today, the senior officer insisted: "I am 100pc sure that the couple found at the reception at 15.02 is not the McAreavey couple and I am able to confirm it."

Chaos

He produced documentation to the court relating to the German couple, named as Harald Hoger and Sabarese Graiella.

And he told the court that he had concrete information showing when this couple arrived and when they departed.

The trial - which is now in its fourth week - descended into chaos with the judge being forced to call a halt to proceedings in order to "calm tensions".

Former hotel employees Avinash Treebhoowoon (31) and Sandip Moneea (42) deny murdering the daughter of Tyrone gaelic football boss Mickey Harte.

Drama

The court room was full today with John McAreavey, his brother Brendan, sister Claire and brother in law Mark Harte, all watching proceedings intently.

During a morning of high drama, Michaela's brother Mark Harte stood to his feet in order to view the footage before smiling when the couple were formally identified.

The evidence by the police officer prompted heats exchanges between prosecution and defence lawyers.

The nine-member jury had been shown CCTV footage showing a couple arriving at the reception desk and speaking with staff for two minutes and 20 seconds.

The female appears to be distressed in the footage - with apparent tensions between her and the staff and her male partner.

hnews@herald.ie

Promoted articles

Entertainment News