Ranjit Jokhoo: no record of any previous robberies against residents of Legends

One of the lead investigators into the murder of Michaela McAreavey has told the Sunday Tribune that the men accused of killing her had "no intention to murder".

Detective inspector Ranjit Jokhoo of the Mauritian Central Criminal Investigation Department said the murder was one of the most unusual he had ever encountered because of the violence used by the hotel workers who were well-liked by their colleagues and had no criminal records.

Twenty-nine-year-old room attendant Avinash Treebhowon and Sandip Moneea, a 41-year-old room cleaning supervisor, are accused of the murder of Michaela Harte while 33-year-old Raj Theekay, a room attendant, is acc­used of conspiracy to murder because he did nothing when he heard Michaela scream as she was being attacked.

"This is not a normal case because usually robbers flee and do not kill people and put their bodies into the bath. We were very surprised but Avinash said that he was stricken with panic.

"When she fell down they both put her in the bath and left here there to drown. They thought she had fainted but she was in fact already dead by the time she entered the bath. They had no intention to murder her but felt they had no choice because she would be able to identify them and they did not want that to happen."

The detective confirmed that Michaela's body was fully clothed and there was no sexual motive to the attack. He also dismissed reports that she had suffered head or facial injuries and said the only injuries she received were from the strangulation.

He also said that the two murder suspects were in the room for just five minutes and conceded that this was a short period to decide to attack somebody, fill a large bath three-quarters full, place a body in it and leave the room.

Jokhoo said that after John told them that Michaela had gone to the room to get biscuits, "we treated the biscuits as important, and we immediately found them in the room."

The officer also defended charging the suspects without getting the results of forensic and DNA tests back saying that the charges were only provisional and could be changed at a later date. He said he did not know when the forensic tests would be completed.

Under the law of Mauritius, if a suspect is arrested and there is any evidence to warrant charges then they must be filed at the earliest possible date.

It is understood that the murder charges against the two men may well be reduced to manslaughter and that the conspiracy charge against Theekay could be dismissed completely.

He said several independent witnesses in the hotel had given statements saying that they saw Treebhowon and Moneea coming out of the hotel room
and walking in separate directions and this would be key when the case goes to court.

Jokhoo said there was no record of any previous robberies against residents of Legends hotel and he believed the two men had intended to steal a small amount of money from the room so that the newly married couple would not notice.

He added that when the murder investigation was completed all three men would be quizzed to ascertain if they had been involved in other hotel room robberies that had slipped under the radar.

The investigator said it appeared that no one else was involved in the murder and did not anticipate further arrests.

He also angrily slammed allegations that the suspects were beaten in custody which led to their confessions, saying: "the only person who was the victim of brutality is in a coffin".