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Michaela murder suspect freed after 'star witness' deal

A MAN charged in relation to the honeymoon murder of Michaela McAreavey was yesterday freed after he agreed to testify against her alleged killers.

Tyrone GAA boss Mickey Harte's only daughter was brutally murdered in January while on honeymoon with her husband, John McAreavey, at the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.

The 28-year-old beauty queen was strangled to death after she apparently disturbed intruders who were rifling through belongings in the couple's room.

Mauritian Raj Theekoy (31) walked free from court on Monday following a hearing in which prosecutors revealed he would provide crucial testimony implicating his former colleagues Avinash Treebhowon (29) and Sandip Mooneea (41).





Dropped

Hotel room cleaner Raj Theekoy had been charged with conspiracy to commit murder but is now expected to become a star witness in the trial of the pair, accused of killing Michaela Harte on January 10.

Police inspector Ranjit Jokhoo yesterday said he believed Theekoy's evidence would help bring Mrs Harte's killers to justice.

He said: "Theekoy was a suspect but at this stage all of the charges against him have been dropped.

"This is because he has agreed to become a key state witness. He will tell the court that he saw the two main suspects leaving the murder room in the moments after the offence was committed.

"As a result of this testimony, the police advised the Department of Public Prosecutions to drop the charges against him."

Theekoy was arrested alongside Treebhowon and Mooneea on January 11, the day after the murder at the luxury Legends hotel in Mauritius.

Detectives provisionally charged the room cleaner with conspiracy to commit murder, following the allegation he had failed to raise the alarm despite hearing screams coming from inside Mrs McAreavey's room.

On Monday, magistrate Sheila Bonomally was told prosecutors were now willing to dismiss the case against Theekoy, for which he had spent almost three months on remand. The hotel worker was released unconditionally. The court also heard the preliminary murder charges against Mooneea and Treebhowon would be upheld again after prosecutors had said they believed there was sufficient evidence to justify a trial.

Detectives have claimed Treebhowon admitted the pair killed Michaela Harte by accident after she entered her bedroom and caught them stealing from her purse.





Confession

He allegedly told officers they dumped the former Rose of Tralee contestant's body in the bath after Mooneea strangled her when he tried to keep her silent.

However Mooneea, a room supervisor, has always denied the claim. Treebhowon has since also claimed he made the confession only after being tortured by police.

The hearing also saw charges against a fourth suspect lowered.

Legends security officer Dassen Narainen (26) had faced a provisional charge of conspiracy to commit murder after allegedly confessing he helped supply a magnetic room key card which allowed the suspected killers to access the suite.

The court heard prosecutors would instead bring a formal charge against him of conspiracy to commit theft in relation to the alleged offence.

hnews@herald.ie