Belfast Telegraph

Michaela McAreavey widower returns to island for murder trial

By Cormac Quinn in Mauritius

The widower of murdered honeymooner Michaela McAreavey has returned to the paradise island where his new bride was killed.

John McAreavey (27) last night returned to Mauritian soil for the first time since he brought his wife’s body back to Ireland in January 2011.

The trial of Avinash Treebhowon (29) and Sandip Moonea (41), former employees at the Legends Hotel where the couple were staying last year, is set to be one of the biggest court cases in the small island's history.

The accused both deny murdering the newlywed (27) when she returned to the couple's hotel room to pick up some biscuits and was strangled when she stumbled upon a burglary.

Accompanied by his father Brendan, sister Claire and brother-in-law Mark Harte, they will attend the trial of the men accused of murdering Michaela.

Michaela’s father, Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte, has not travelled for the trial.

Wearing a light grey tracksuit top, blue checked shirt and chinos, John arrived at Mauritius International Airport on BA flight 2063 from London Gatwick at 3:50pm yesterday afternoon.

Their aircraft was delayed for more than four hours in London due to technical difficulties.

John and his family travelled business class on the 11-hour flight to the Indian Ocean island.

The last passengers to disembark from the aircraft, they were ushered to a private area.

While other passengers were greeted by Mauritian music, dancing and garlands of flowers in the arrivals hall, John and his family are understood to have exited the airport privately, avoiding the assembled Mauritian and Irish media.

Mr McAreavey had travelled to the island from his home in Laurencetown, Co Down.

The couple had bought the house but continued to live separately with their respective parents before their marriage.

But following the heartbreak of Michaela's death, John could not bring himself to live there.

It is only in recent months that he took the decision to finally make the house his home.

Recently, on the anniversary of her death, he spoke about the daily challenges he faces in coming to terms with his grief.

In a statement he said: “I miss Michaela, I miss her smile, I miss her laugh and her loving touch but more than anything I miss my friend.”

He added: “The feeling of loss, disillusionment and despair are as strong today as that chilling day back in January. The fact that my wife was stolen from me in such a cruel manner only compounds this misery and still sends shivers down my spine”.

If they are found guilty, the accused could be sentenced to up to 45 years in prison.

B ackground

Michaela McAreavey, née Harte, was 27 when she was murdered on her Mauritius honeymoon in January 2011. An Irish language teacher from Glencull, near Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, she was the daughter of Tyrone gaelic football manager Mickey Harte and shared his passion for GAA. Michaela taught Irish and religion at St Patrick’s Academy Dungannon, where she ran the ‘Pioneer Club', encouraging young people to abstain from alcohol. She was the Ulster Rose of Tralee in 2004 and also co-presented Irish language TV programmes. Michaela was buried in her wedding dress at St Malachy’s Church, Ballymacilroy, less than a month after she married Down footballer John McAreavey there.

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