Lawyer claims new charges against worker acquitted of Michaela murder ‘groundless’

Tragic couple John and Michaela McAreavey


Catherine Fegan

A lawyer representing a former hotel worker acquitted of the murder of Irish honeymooner Michaela McAreavey claims fresh charges against his client have “no substance.”

Sandip Moneea, 52, who was acquitted of the teacher’s murder in a 2012 trial, was yesterday remanded in custody on a charge of conspiracy to commit larceny in the hotel room where Mrs McAreavey was killed.

Last month, another former hotel worker – ex-security guard Dassen Narayanen – was charged with the same offence.

Mooneea and Narayanen are charged with conspiring with each other to steal a magnetic key card to the room occupied by Mrs McAreavey and her husband to commit larceny.

Last night, Mr Moonea’s lawyer said he had been given no insight into any new evidence that had emerged in relation to his client.

“There is no substance to the charge whatsoever,” he said.

“It is solely based on a new statement given by Dassen Narayanen, who has proven himself to be an unreliable witness in the past.”

Mr Valayden attended Mapou Distcru court in Mauritius yesterday day to ask that the charges against his client are struck out. A decision on this motion, as well as a motion for his client to be granted bail, will be heard on Tuesday.

He said Mr Monnea had been left “devastated” by his re-arrest more than a decade after he was acquitted of murdering Mrs Mcareavey, but that he believed he would be bailed next week.

In March of this year, Dassen Narayanen was remanded in custody charged with conspiring with another hotel employee to steal a magnetic key card to hain access to the room occupied by Michaela McAvreavey and her husband to commit larceny.

A police officer who gave evidence at the 2012 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 that was 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 wasn't definite proof that he had touched it.

In subsequent media interviews, Narayanen 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 Narayanen had fabricated the story about him.

Mrs McAreavey, 27, was strangled in her room at the Legends Hotel in Mauritius on January 10 2011.

The teacher, who had married husband John 10 days earlier, was allegedly attacked after she returned to her room alone and disturbed a burglary.

No-one has been convicted of murdering the daughter of Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte.

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