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Arrest of ex-hotel security guard puts Michaela McAreavey murder back in spotlight

But what does this mean for the new investigation into her killing and are Mauritian detectives any closer to solving the mystery?

Former hotel security guard Dassen Narayanen, who was arrested on Tuesday

Catherine Fegan

The arrest of former hotel security guard Dassen Narayanen in Mauritius on Tuesday has put the 2011 murder of Tyrone's Michaela McAreavey back in the spotlight.

But what does this mean for the new investigation into her killing and are Mauritian detectives any closer to solving the mystery of what happened in room 1025 of the Legends hotel more than a decade ago?

Since 2021, a team led by the Assistant Superintendent of Police has been in charge of re-examining the original probe into the murder.

Investigators arrested Narayanen on Tuesday in relation to contradictions that had been flagged in the original investigation.

His interview could not be completed due to health concerns.

Narayanen was the third person, after John McAreavey and bellboy Rajiv Bhujun, to discover the body of Michaela McAreavey in her room at the Legends Hotel in Mauritius on January 10, 2011.

Narayanen (37), who had been working at the hotel for four years, was one of the suspects in the case when he was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder in January 2011.

However, the charge was reduced to conspiracy to commit larceny two months later.

The larceny charge against Narayanen was struck out in 2013.

John and Michaela McAreavey (Irish News/PA)

Narayanen was the only initial suspect who was not called to testify in the trial of Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea - the two men cleared of the murder on July 13, 2012.

The day after the murder, Narayanen was said to have phoned in sick to work, claiming he injured his leg and it was in plaster.

But the murder trial heard claims that Narayanen was later seen walking around a supermarket.

A police officer who gave evidence at the supreme court trial told the court that Narayanen was not one of the murderers but alleged he had provided the key card that opened the room as part of his role in a widespread racket to steal from guests.

Traces of the security guard's DNA were found on an unauthorised "dummy" magnetic card found in the hotel's security office in the place where the actual staff card that opened the door of room 1025 should have been. The card used to gain entry two minutes before Mrs McAreavey went into her room has never been located.

A potential genetic match to Narayanen was also found on a cupboard in the bathroom of 1025 that contained a safe. But a DNA expert said that it could have been a chance finding and was not definite proof that he had touched it.

Hotel manager Brice Lunot told the jury that Narayanen was one of the staff members who had entered the room after the body of the former Rose of Tralee contestant had been discovered, as frantic efforts to revive her were taking place.

But Legends' head of security Mohammad Imrit told the trial how Narayanen was spotted on CCTV close to room 1025 on the day of the murder and was not supposed to be there.

Mr Imrit said Narayanen had been posted elsewhere that morning but had asked to change his position to one closer to the deluxe blocks where the McAreaveys were staying.

Giving evidence, room service attendant Ravindradeo Seetohul claimed he saw the security guard standing at the open door of 1025 talking with Mr Treebhoowoon around half an hour before Ms McAreavey was killed.

CCTV footage also showed Narayanen patrolling a route that passed the patio doors of the McAreaveys' room 25 minutes before the murder. Yet in court, it was stated he had no reason to be in that area of the hotel at all.

Assistant commissioner of police Yoosoof Soopun told the first trial that Narayanen was not involved in the murder but alleged he had plotted with others to steal.

In media interviews, Naraynen claimed police beat him and held a revolver to his head before making him sign a statement saying he gave the stolen master keycard to Sandip Moneea early on January 10, 2011. A second statement, which he also said was fabricated, implicated another member of staff, Seenarain Mungroo.

Mr Mungroo was questioned and charged by police, but the charges were later dropped when it emerged that Naraynen had fabricated the story about him.

Narayanen claimed that the presence of his DNA on the "dummy" card was due to the fact that he had handed out the cards to staff in the control room that morning.

There was nothing strange about his having walked on the wall behind the deluxe block, he said. In his four years at Legends he had always walked there.

This week, Narayanen found himself once again remanded in custody on a larceny charge.

A court document from the district court in Riviere du Rempart in Mauritius shows the charge against him specifically relates to conspiracy to steal from the room of John and Michaela McAreavey at the Legends Hotel.

Narayanen's lawyer, Vikash Teeluckdharry, said "there is nothing new" about the allegations he is facing as these are the same as they were in 2011 and he said his client is innocent.

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