Northern Ireland

Michaela McAreavey murder trial told accused was beaten for confession

One of two men accused of murdering Michaela McAreavey was "subjected to police brutality", the trial has heard.

Defence lawyers for Avinash Treebhoowoon told the Mauritius Supreme Court a confession was "extorted from him as a result of violence".

The daughter of Tyrone gaelic football manager Mickey Harte was found dead at the Legends Hotel in Mauritius during her honeymoon on 10 January 2011.

A police statement Mr Treebhoowoon made two days later was read in court.

"When I was leaving court an officer asked me to sit down," he said in the statement, dated 12 January 2011.

"I was placed on a table. I was undressed and a pail of water was filled. I was then on a chair. I was grabbed by the neck and placed into the pail of water.

"On the following day, two officers took me in the morning in a van and I was beaten up.

"Each time I was brought for a check-up by a doctor for anything.

"I have been assaulted by them."

Earlier on Wednesday, a police photographer was cross-examined by the defence team.

Harris Jeewooth was the first person to capture the scene, three hours after Michaela was killed in their honeymoon suite.

He admitted to the defence team that police officers had not worn protective footwear during a reconstruction at the crime scene three days after the killing.

Image caption Ravi Rutnah's flamboyant style amused people in the public gallery at the Supreme Court in Mauritius

The court heard that Mr Treebhoowoon was not wearing an anti-contamination suit during the reconstruction.

A defence lawyer asked Mr Jeewooth: "Are you not aware of the importance of not contaminating a scene?"

It also emerged the police officer spent two hours documenting the scene, and upon arrival he had taken pictures without the consent of his senior inspector.

On Wednesday, the defence team accused him of "catastrophic errors" in failing to photograph relevant items in the suite.

Avinash Treebhoowoon, 30, and Sandip Moneea, 42, deny murder.

It is the third day of the trial at the Supreme Court at Port Louis in Mauritius.

Michaela's husband John McAreavey is not allowed to attend the proceedings because he is being called as a prosecution witness, but his sister Claire and Michaela's brother Mark Harte are there.

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