Northern Ireland

Michaela McAreavey murder trial hears confession claim

One of two men accused of murdering Michaela McAreavey signed a confession, the trial jury has heard.

The daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte was found dead at the Legends Hotel in Mauritius during her honeymoon on 10 January 2011.

Prosecutors said Avinash Treebhoowoon admitted she "caught them red-handed" in her room and 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 major crimes investigation team beat me up and forced me to sign a statement."

The detective said that when 42-year-old Sandip Moneea was charged, he replied: "I know nothing of this case; I am totally innocent."

On the second day of the murder trial at the Supreme Court in Mauritius, the prosecution has been making its opening statement.

Image caption Michaela McAreavey was murdered in Mauritius on her honeymoon last year

Prosecution barrister Mehdi Manrakhan began by setting the scene, saying the story "begins with a wedding in Ireland and a honeymoon on the paradise island of Mauritius but this was brutally interrupted by the senseless murder of the bride".

Mr Manrakhan said John McAreavey had married "the love of his life, a young and beautiful lady" and they had "the wedding of their dreams".

He said they were supposed to spend what was supposed to be the best days of their married life, but two days later she was found dead.

The court was told a post mortem examination had revealed several bruises and abrasions around Michaela's neck, and the cause of death was asphyxiation.

'Brutally killed'

"Medical evidence is such that there can be no doubt that Michaela had been brutally killed," he said.

He said the couple had planned to spend a day of rest and relaxation, and Michaela had spent the morning by the swimming pool at the Legends 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 have evidence from another attendant, Raj Theekoy, who claims to have been outside the hotel room and heard noises "of a female in pain".

Image caption The trial is taking place at the Mauritian Supreme Court in Port Louis

He said Mr Theekoy claims to have seen both accused coming out of the room.

He said when Mr Theekoy confronted the two accused, Mr Treebhoowoon said "nothing happened, just keep quiet", while Mr Moneea said "if you say anything, I'll get you involved in the case".

It is thought the trial will last for about two weeks.

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