The preliminary hearing at the Michaela Harte murder trial will have no access to CCTV footage of the accused discussing her death – because it doesn’t exist.
A senior detective in Mauritius has admitted to the Irish Independent that footage handed over by the Legends Hotel during the police enquiry is not of the relevant area.
Michaela, daughter of Tyrone football boss Mickey Harte, was murdered in her hotel room just days after her wedding to Down footballer John McAreavey.
During a press conference following her death when she was killed after disturbing thieves in her room, police claimed they had video footage of the two main suspects talking in the corridor outside the scene of the crime.
Now a senior detective has told the Independent that no such evidence exists ahead of the second day of the preliminary trial on the holiday island.
Detective Inspector Ranjit Jokhoo, second in command at the Major Crime Investigation Team, told the paper: “There’s no CCTV in the rooms or in the vicinity of the rooms.
“It’s just CCTV from the compound. We didn’t view them in our inquiry they were of no use.”
Jokhoo’s statement contradicts earlier claims by police at the press conference and a subsequent initial hearing that they had studied the tapes and would use them as evidence against hotel workers Avinash Treebhowon (30) and Sandip Moneea (41).
Jokhoo also said he would need to re-check the matter with his crime team colleagues before the second day of the preliminary trial.
The hotel’s General Manager Bruce Lunot has always insisted that he gave the hard-drive from his camera system to the Treebhowon and Moneea are both due to appear in court again on Tuesday at the hearing which will decide what evidence is permissible in the actual murder trial.
Prime suspect Moneea is maintaining his innocence amid allegations that confessions were procured under threatening circumstances by local police.
Mauritian barrister Dick Sui Wa is representing the Harte and McAreavey families at the preliminary trial.
He said: “There is no pressure from the family but they wanted to ensure the trial is conducted properly. They see that things are being done.”
If found guilty of murder, the accused men face up to 60 years in jail.