Murdered bride ‘caught thieves red-handed in honeymoon hotel’

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Michaela McAreavey’s fairytale marriage was brutally ended by two thieves she caught red-handed in her bedroom, a court in Mauritius has heard.

The daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football boss Mickey Harte screamed as she was murdered in her room in the island’s luxury Legends Hotel by two staff members while on her honeymoon in January last year, a chief prosecutor told jurors.

Opening the case against the two accused yesterday, Mehdi Manrakhan claimed a third employee heard her cries from outside the door, but instead of helping her, ran away and hid.

The lawyer said Mrs McAreavey, from Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, and her new husband John had flown to Mauritius to spend “what was meant to be the best days of their married life.”

But their honeymoon was “brutally interrupted by the senseless murder of the bride,” he said.

Defendants Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea deny premeditated murder.

The court heard Treebhoowoon confessed to police after the death but later claimed the statement had been beaten out of him.

Prosecutors said Treebhoowoon admitted Mrs McAreavey “caught them red-handed” in her room and was killed because she could identify them.

However, a police officer said when charged, the 30 year old replied: “I’ve got nothing to do with this case.”

The detective said that when Moneea was charged, he replied: “I know nothing of this case; I am totally innocent.”

In his opening statement on the second day of the murder trial at the Supreme Court in Mauritius, Principal state counsel Mr Manrakhan described Mrs McAreavey as a beautiful bride who was the love of her husband’s life.

The couple were hoping to enjoy what was supposed to be the best days of their married life, but two days later she was found dead, he told the court.

A post mortem examination had revealed several bruises and abrasions around Michaela’s neck, and the cause of death was asphyxiation.

“Medical evidence is such that there can be no doubt that Michaela had been brutally killed,” Mr Manrakhan said.

On the day of the murder, Michaela had spent the morning by the swimming pool at the hotel while her husband had gone for a golf lesson before meeting up again for lunch.

The barrister said Michaela had ordered tea and had returned to their room to get biscuits, while her husband remained in the restaurant.

He said Mr McAreavey waited for her to come back “but this was the last time he would see his beautiful wife alive.”

Turning to the two accused, he said both men, who were hotel employees, would have had access to a magnetic master key which he claimed was used to open the hotel room door.

The barrister said they had evidence from another attendant, Raj Theekoy, who claims to have been outside the hotel room and heard noises “of a female in pain” and saw both accused coming out of the room.

When Mr Theekoy confronted them, Mr Treebhoowoon said “nothing happened, just keep quiet”, the prosecutor told the court, while Mr Moneea said “if you say anything, I’ll get you involved in the case.”

Meanwhile, extra security measures were implemented yesterday for the second day of the trial, one the most high-profile criminal cases ever held on the island.

It follows the chaotic scenes witnessed on Monday when John McAreavey was mobbed by crowds outside.

The two accused were also buffeted as they were led through throngs of people.

The case against Treebhoowoon, 30, and Moneea, 42, is expected to continue for two weeks.