Verdict due in Michaela trial

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THE jury at the trial of two men accused of killing Michaela McAreavey is expected to be sent away to deliberate on their verdict today (Thursday).

After listening to 32 days of evidence, the nine jurors were scheduled to listen to a summing up from the judge at the Supreme Court in Port Louis before retiring to consider whether they will find Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea guilty or not guilty of the murder in January 2011.

The 27-year-old schoolteacher at St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon, is thought to have been strangled when she returned to their honeymoon suite for biscuits to go with her tea, while husband John waited by the poolside restaurant.

The trial of the accused, originally scheduled to finish in nine days, has lasted almost two months with widower John, his father Brendan, sister Claire and Michaela’s brother Mark on the island throughout.

In the prosecution’s closing statement last Friday a lawyer criticised what he called “unseemly and grotesque” theories introduced by the defence, which attempted to point the finger of blame at John McAreavey.

Medhi Manrakhan said that, while the theories were quickly dropped, they were still a source of confusion to the jurors and an insult to Mr McAreavey, his family and the memory of his late wife.

Describing the trial as the most taxing and challenging of his career, Mr Manrakhan told the nine jurors the evidence could leave them in no doubt that the two accused were responsible.

“This was a robbery that turned into a brutal murder,” said principal state counsel Mr Manrakhan. “It would have been easier for the two accused to beg forgiveness from Michaela and to walk away.

“The worst that could have happened would have been the loss of their jobs. But they decided to murder her. This shows that they both possess killing instincts and have no respect for human life.”

Both men deny the murder. Their lawyer Sanjeev Teeluckdharry asked the jury on Monday to find his clients not guilty, and further calling for the trial to be scrapped and a fresh murder inquiry to begin.

In his summing up, he was heavily critical of the police investigation.

Mr Teeluckdharry said he did not wish to hurt anyone and had “a great respect for the Irish nation” which had suffered “a dark era of police brutality, extremism and miscarriages of justice”.

He appealed for the jury to “provide the truth to the people of Ireland and to Mrs McAreavey’s family” by finding both men innocent.