Northern Ireland

John McAreavey - Michaela murder left me at rock bottom

Michaela McAreavey and John McAreavey
Image caption Michaela Harte married John McAreavey 12 days before she was murdered

The husband of murdered bride Michaela McAreavey has spoken for the first time of the "very dark place" he found himself in when he found her body.

John McAreavey and his wife, the daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football boss Mickey Harte, were on honeymoon in Mauritius when she was murdered.

He said finding Michaela's body in the bath of their hotel room was "the worst thing imaginable".

He added: "I ran over and sat her down and I was just screaming for help."

Mickey Harte is one of the most respected figures in a sport which is hugely popular in Ireland and thousands of mourners attended his daughter's funeral near her family home in Ballygawley.

The 27-year-old had married John McAreavey just 12 days before the January murder and was buried in her wedding dress.

In an interview with RTE News's Northern Editor Tommy Gorman, Mr McAreavey, 30, described how he went to look for Michaela after she failed to return from the room.

He was let in to the room by a porter and saw her lying in the bath.

"All sorts of thoughts were going through my head, that there had been an accident, that something happened.

'Utter despair'

"Your mind is just racing. The porter guy came back in and I was shouting at him to go and get help."

In the aftermath of the murder, John described his wife as his "rock" and said his life had revolved around her.

"I was just holding her and telling her 'Come on Michaela, come on'. It was a wee while before the doctor came but at that stage unfortunately she had passed," Mr McAreavey said.

"The overriding feeling was just utter despair, not that I was there on my own. I didn't really care that I was there on my own - it was the fact that Michaela wasn't there with me.

Image caption Michaela and John McAreavey pictured on their honeymoon in Mauritius

"At that time, it hadn't really sunk in what was going on around me. It was just a very difficult time, a very dark place."

Two men are due to face trial for Mrs McAreavey's murder and her husband said it was quite quickly apparent that she had not died of natural causes.

He said he had been the focus of police attention for a time after the killing.

'Rock bottom'

"When you're at rock bottom, it doesn't really matter what anybody says or does," he explained.

"I suppose looking back, I was still very much in shock at the whole thing.

"You were hoping to fall asleep and wake up and find everything would be ok. But within a half a second, you realise the reality you're in."

Thousand of miles from family and friends at home, John, who has described Michaela as his "rock", said that he thought immediately of her rosary beads.

"I just had to get my hands on them. And of course, our wedding rings because we didn't have them on us that day.

"I just had to have those things. Once I got my hands on them, I felt I wasn't on my own. I didn't have any friends or family around but I knew someone was looking after me."

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