A lawyer who defended one of two hotel workers acquitted of the murder of Michaela McAreavey is penning a book about the case.
anjeev Teeluckdharry, who represented Avinash Treebhoowon during the high-profile trial in 2012, hopes to publish his account of the case in 2022, to coincide with the 10-year anniversary of his participation in the trial.
“This was the most high-profile murder case in Mauritius,” he told the Irish Independent.
“I have worked on many cases since, but nothing has had the national and international attention that this one had. I began writing a book about it when the coronavirus restrictions were imposed in Mauritius. I have had to pause writing at the minute but I hope to publish the book in 2022, which will mark 10 years since the trial.”
Ms McAreavey, the daughter of former Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte, was found strangled in the bath of her hotel suite after returning alone to her room at the former Legends Hotel in Grand Gaube, Mauritius, on January 10, 2011. She was just days into the second leg of her honeymoon with her husband John.
Room attendant Avinash Treebhoowon and floor supervisor Sandip Moneea were charged and then acquitted after a high-profile trial on the holiday island during the summer of 2012.
Mr McAreavey, who has since remarried and recently celebrated the birth of his first child, has campaigned to have them tried again.
Earlier this month, the Mauritian DPP said a new inquiry into the murder, launched in August, had found no new evidence and that investigations were now “closed”.
Mr Teeluckdharry said he believes the case should be re-opened.
“It’s still possible to solve this,” he said.
“The DNA evidence has been kept. A new inquiring officer would have the benefit of the testimony that was put forward in court and the details that were brought out through cross-examination by the defence. If we were to start anew, the role of each and every person in this inquiry needs to scrutinised. I think, in the interest of truth and justice, the case should be re-opened.”
At the time, the prosecution case was that Ms McAreavey had stumbled upon an attempt to steal money from a purse that had been seen by cleaner Mr Treebhoowon the previous day. It was argued that he was assisted in his crime by hotel supervisor Moneea, who allegedly strangled her from behind when she caught them both in the act. A post-mortem examination showed that she died from asphyxia due to compression of the neck.
“In court, we were able to show that the theory about the purse did not stand up,” said Mr Teeluckdharry.
“The police didn’t even place the famous purse, the focus of the whole made-up theory, into evidence. What does that tell you? This case was badly investigated from the start.
“Once the Major Crime Investigation Team took over from the local police, they messed up everything because they were not trying to find the truth, they were trying to close the case as soon as possible. No purse, unidentified footprints on the bed, unidentified handprints on the door, witness statements not taken. There are many question marks over this case because the focus was on getting the matter dealt with quickly and making it look like the culprits had been caught.”