Northern Ireland

Honeymoon in paradise that turned to tragedy

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Media captionMichaela McAreavey was killed in January 2011

It should have been the dream holiday that launched a new life for a young couple but it turned into a nightmare of violence, tragedy and grief.

Newlywed Michaela McAreavey was murdered in her hotel room on the island of Mauritius.

John McAreavey, her husband of less than two weeks, said "my life ended as well" that day.

The McAreaveys were on honeymoon at the Legends Hotel when John found 27-year-old Michaela dead in the bathtub of their room.

Michaela, daughter of Mickey Harte, one of Ireland's leading sports figures had gone back to their room from a poolside restaurant to get biscuits.


When she did not return her husband went back to their room and found her body in the bath. She had been strangled.

The police and prosecution said she had been murdered after disturbing thieves in her room.

Image caption Some of the most harrowing testimony at the trial came from John McAreavey

Five hotel workers would later be arrested over the murder before two - floor supervisor Sandip Moneea, 43, and cleaner Avinash Treebhoowoon, 32, were charged.

Both denied the murder.

The trial at the island's Supreme Court in the capital city of Port Louis was expected to last around two weeks. It would instead take more than six weeks.

Some of the most harrowing testimony came from Michaela's widower John.

He recalled finding their hotel room door open, then seeing his wife in the bath with the water still running.

"I ran to the bathroom, dropped my bag and grabbed Michaela," he said.

He said he did not know what was going on, but she was cold and he noticed marks on her neck.

He said he pulled Mrs McAreavey from the bathtub, and although he did not know CPR he attempted to resuscitate her.

"I was holding her in my arms, telling her to wake up - 'Michaela, Michaela, come on, wake up'," he told the jury.

Mr McAreavey said he then screamed for help.

Angry scenes

The McAreavey and Harte families were often upset by some of the proceedings, which had to be adjourned on 15 June after heated exchanges between the defence and prosecution.

In the early days of the trial, the family were also clearly upset at occasional bursts of laughter from the public gallery.

Image caption Defence barrister Ravi Rutnah's extrovert style drew laughter from the public gallery, to the anguish of the Harte and McAreavey families.

They were prompted by the extrovert style of defence barrister Ravi Rutnah.

He later withdrew as defence counsel, claiming his professional integrity had been questioned by a prosecution witness.

In May, there were angry scenes over what the defence claimed was a sex guide found in the McAreaveys' room.

A family friend told the BBC the booklet was an insert from a women's magazine.

John McAreavey said on the day of the murder he had offered to go up to the room instead of Michaela.

"Obviously I wish I had gone," he told the court.

He said he and Michaela had never got the chance to spend one night in the house they planned to start married life in.

"It was very important to us that we would only ever live together when we were married," he said.

"We felt by waiting it would make the experience more new and magical and something to look forward to after we returned from honeymoon."

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