No-one except those closest to them can really know the horror that the McAreavey and Harte families have lived with during the past 18 months since the murder of Michaela McAreavey while on honeymoon in Mauritius.
The one hope sustaining them was that her killers would be brought before the courts, tried and convicted. That, at least, would be justice. Today that hope lies in tatters. Two men accused of the murder were unanimously acquitted by a jury. It was a devastating blow to the families.
There is no doubt that the investigation of this brutal murder was botched. Vital forensic evidence was either missed or ignored; potential witnesses were not interviewed; Michaela's heartbroken and grief-stricken husband, John, was held for five hours by police in the immediate aftermath of the killing, and the men accused claimed they were tortured by police. To make matters worse, during the trial John had to listen to sordid allegations and innuendo about his private life with Michaela.
In stark contrast, through it all the McAreavey and Harte families have conducted themselves with great dignity as befits the memory of a girl who was regarded as the perfect daughter and the perfect wife.
Her death, particularly given its cruel timing, shocked the entire province and no one could have anything but sympathy for those who loved her. That sympathy is renewed today as the families come to terms with the fact that Michaela's killers are still at large.
Given the huge international interest in the case, there is little doubt that the image of Mauritius, particularly that of its police force, has suffered severe damage. The number of British and Irish holidaymakers going to the island has fallen since the killing. That, of course, is of little concern to the McAreavey and Harte families. They just wonder if justice will ever be done for Michaela and they, like many others, will ask the question - who did kill that bubbly, beautiful girl?
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