Sandip Moneea tells Michaela McAreavey murder trial he was on the phone at the time of the killing

Tuesday 03 July 2012 22.16
Sandip Moneea is accused of the murder of Michaela McAreavey
Sandip Moneea is accused of the murder of Michaela McAreavey

A man accused of murdering honeymooner Michaela McAreavey in Mauritius has told a court he was making a telephone call at the time she died.

Testifying in his own defence, Sandip Moneea insisted he was on the phone to his sister at the time the prosecution contends the Co Tyrone teacher was strangled in her room at the luxury Legends Hotel last January.

Mr Moneea, 42, said his sister had asked if he wanted to come to her house for dinner that night.

The defendant said he declined, as he was taking part in a religious fast.

"I do not eat non-veg on Monday," Mr Moneea added. "I was fasting for the god Shira."

The accused, who is a Hindu, was questioned by his lawyer for around 20 minutes before cross-examination began.

Mr Moneea and co-accused Avinash Treebhoowoon, 32, deny murdering Mrs McAreavey.

Both men worked in the Legends hotel at the time of the murder.

Mr Moneea's sister gave evidence this afternoon.

She said she received a telephone call from her brother on the afternoon of the murder and they talked about plans for preparing food and about her son's day at school.

She denied she had come with this information to try to get her brother out of trouble.

The prosecution claims the two men attacked Mrs McAreavey when she interrupted them stealing in her room, having momentarily left her husband John at a poolside restaurant.

Mr McAreavey and other family members watched the accused testify from the public gallery of the Supreme Court in Port Louis.