A hotel cleaner who has implicated two men on trial for murdering Michaela McAreavey in Mauritius has been accused of lying in court.
Raj Theekoy, who was arrested in the wake of the honeymooner’s death, also faced claims that his desire to get out of prison influenced his witness statement to police.
Mr Theekoy alleges he saw defendants Sandip Moneea and Avinash Treebhoowoon leave room 1025 of the island’s Legends Hotel minutes after hearing a woman inside scream in pain.
But the court heard claims that Mr Theekoy was drinking tea and joking with Treebhoowoon in the hotel’s staff canteen an hour after the 27-year-old Ballygawley woman was found strangled in the room.
The key prosecution witness denied he had been untruthful on the stand when defence lawyer Rama Valayden challenged, “You are lying.”
Mr Theekoy replied, “Whatever I have seen or heard is the same as what I have told the court.”
The prosecution says 27-year-old teacher Mrs McAreavey was murdered after she left her husband John at a poolside restaurant in the hotel to fetch biscuits from her room, only to walk in on Moneea and Treebhoowoon stealing.
Mr McAreavey is due to take the witness stand in the high-profile trial at the Supreme Court in Port Louis tomorrow morning. While he has been on the island throughout the last 11 days of evidence, he has been unable to attend court proceedings until called to give evidence.
Aside from Mr Theekoy’s cross-examination, the trial today heard from the waiter who served the couple lunch minutes before the honeymooner was murdered, and the doctor who pronounced her dead as she lay on the floor of her room.
Before they gave evidence Mr Theekoy faced rigorous questioning.
After the murder, the room attendant told police he went straight home after finishing work that day and claimed he did not initially report what he saw because he was scared and Moneea threatened him
But Mr Valayden, who produced CCTV images of Mr Theekoy near the canteen, claimed he and Treebhoowoon were having a joke about Moneea at around 3.45pm.
“I tell you that you were beside accused number one (Treebhoowoon) and bought tea and sugar for him and you were joking to him about accused number two (Moneea) – that he was just married and he had to go home early,” said the lawyer.
The witness said he did not fully remember the incident but rejected the lawyer’s characterisation of it.
“I don’t drink tea, I was just sitting there,” he said.
A lawyer for Treebhoowoon later pointed Mr Theekoy to a statement he made at a previous court hearing claiming he had been in the canteen earlier on the day and had been drinking tea.
In response to Sanjeev Teeluckdharry’s question, Mr Theekoy replied, “I wanted to say I went to drink juice but I said tea to the court.”
He later tried to explain that he used the phrase “going for tea” to describe going for any drink with his colleagues in the canteen.
Fellow room cleaner Treebhoowoon, 31, from Plaine des Roches, and floor supervisor Moneea, 42, from Petit Raffray, deny murdering the Irish language and religious education teacher in the gated beachside complex last January.
Mrs McAreavey’s father-in-law, Brendan McAreavey, and sister-in-law, Claire McAreavey, were in court to watch the witness being cross-examined.
Mr Theekoy was originally provisionally charged with conspiracy to murder, but that case was dropped and he was granted immunity from prosecution.