The family of newlywed Michaela McAreavey have spoken of their “desolation” after two men accused of her murder in her honeymoon suite in Mauritius were acquitted.
Sandip Moneea and Avinash Treebhoowoon were mobbed by relatives and supporters in chaotic scenes at the Supreme Court in Port Louis yesterday.
Fireworks were let off and chants of “justice, justice” rang out in the packed courtyard as the two former hotel workers emerged, followed soon after by their triumphant barristers carried shoulder high.
Widower John was not there to witness the aftermath of the verdicts, however, having left court with family members as soon as they were read out.
Afterwards a statement from Mrs McAreavey’s relatives said words could not express their sorrow after a harrowing seven-week trial during which even the couple’s sex life was questioned in court.
Nine jurors had taken just over two hours to find both men not guilty of murdering the daughter of Tyrone gaelic football manager Mickey Harte in the island’s luxury Legends hotel last January.
The 27-year-old teacher was found dead in the bath of her deluxe room shortly after eating lunch with her husband at a poolside restaurant.
Amid the celebrations, lawyers Sanjeev Teeluckdharry and Rama Valayden launched a scathing attack on the Mauritian police team they claimed had extracted a confession from Treebhoowoon, and demanded a fresh investigation.
Outside court Treebhoowoon embraced his crying wife Reshma.
“My wife and I are very happy. I am so sad about the lady,” he said. “But I did not do this, I did not kill this lady. I am sure by god.”
Moneea wept as he hugged his lawyer Rama Valayden. “I am so happy to be back with my family,” he said. “These past 18 months have been very, very hard.”