Belfast Telegraph

Michaela's body back in Belfast

The family of murdered Mauritius honeymooner Michaela McAreavey has accompanied her on a final journey home.

Her husband John was on the flight into Belfast which brought his wife of just 12 days back in her coffin. He wore her engagement and wedding rings on a chain around his neck.

Mrs McAreavey, 27, was strangled to death in their hotel room on Monday. Police suspect she interrupted thieves in her room taking money from a purse. Three men have been charged in connection with the death and officers said the alleged killers were hiding in her room when she went in.

The victim was the daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte and his wife Marian. At lunchtime, the plane carrying her remains touched down at George Best Belfast City Airport. John McAreavey was accompanied on the flight by his father Brendan, his brother Brian and Mrs McAreavey's brother Mark.

There to meet them at the airport was Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey, an uncle of the groom who married them on their wedding day, December 30. The bride's three brothers were also present to escort her body home. The coffin was covered with a purple drape as the hearse drove from the airport. The family members followed in cars behind.

The procession made its way slowly out of Belfast to Mrs McAreavey's family home near Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, where her parents awaited. A private wake and family service is planned for immediate family only. Mrs McAreavey's funeral will be held next Monday at St Malachy's Church, Ballymacilroy - the same church where she was married.

Police said that after strangling her, two hotel staff then allegedly went back to work as if nothing had happened. The horror was outlined in the confession statement of one of the suspected killers - room attendant Avinash Treebhoowoon, 29 - which police on the island have revealed. Treebhoowoon claimed he jumped behind the honeymooners' bed when he heard someone at the door.

"He said he lay there behind the bed until she came in," said a police spokeswoman. He alleged that he and co-accused floor supervisor Sandip Moneea, 41, had been in the room to steal the couple's valuables. They had spotted a purse with cash in it while cleaning the day before.

He alleged that after grappling with the bride, he held her down while Moneea strangled her. They then dragged her body to the bathroom and dumped her in the bath, turning on the tap before they fled. "They wanted people to believe that she had an accident," added the spokeswoman.

Moneea has not made any statement of admission to the police. Skin tissue found under Mrs McAreavey's fingernails could prove crucial to the police case against the two accused.

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