Two former hotel workers found not guilty of Michaela McAreavey murder

Friday 13 July 2012 08.00
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Michaela McAreavey was killed on honeymoon in Mauritius in January last year
Michaela McAreavey was killed on honeymoon in Mauritius in January last year
Avinash Treebhoowoon broke down in tears as the verdicts were read out
Avinash Treebhoowoon broke down in tears as the verdicts were read out
The prosecution claimed Sandip Moneea was interrupted while stealing from the McAreaveys hotel room
The prosecution claimed Sandip Moneea was interrupted while stealing from the McAreaveys hotel room

Two former hotel workers, Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea, have been found not guilty of the murder of Michaela McAreavey in Mauritius.

The 27-year-old Co Tyrone teacher was found strangled in her room at the luxury Legends Hotel during her honeymoon on the island in January 2011.

Both verdicts were unanimous and jurors took two hours to deliberate.

Members of the McAreavey family walked straight out of court when the foreman of the jury made the verdicts known.

Both accused men broke down in tears in the dock and their relatives cheered.

The high-profile case in Port Louis was originally listed to run nine days, but lasted eight weeks.

The prosecution had claimed that Mr Treebhoowoon and Mr Moneea attacked Mrs McAreavey when she interrupted them stealing from the room.

She had momentarily left her husband, John, at a poolside restaurant to fetch biscuits.

Mr Treebhoowoon, 32, from Plaine de Roches, worked as a room attendant at Legends, while Mr Moneea, 43, from Petit Raffray, was his floor supervisor. They were arrested at the hotel the day after the murder.

There were chaotic scenes as the two acquitted men walked out of the court.

Throngs of people cheered "justice, justice" in Creole as policemen hurried the men through the courtyard.

Moments later defence lawyers were carried aloft.

Outside court, Mr Treebhoowoon said he was overjoyed. He also expressed sympathy for the McAreaveys.

"I'm so sad about this lady," he said. "But I did not kill this lady."

Mr Moneea wept as he hugged his lawyer Rama Valayden.

"I am so happy to be back with my family. These past 18 months have been so hard," he said.

The Harte and McAreavey families issued a brief statement afterwards.

''After waiting eighteen months in search of justice for Michaela and following the endurance of seven harrowing weeks of this trial, there are no words, which can describe the sense of devastation and desolation now felt by both families.''

They will not make any further comment until their return to Ireland.