The widower of an Irishwoman strangled while on honeymoon on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius yesterday gave emotional evidence at the trial of two men charged with her murder.
John McAreavey broke down several times as he told of frantically trying to revive his wife Michaela after finding her lying in a bath in their hotel suite. He said police, who initially apparently regarded him as a possible suspect, had later handcuffed him and left him alone in a room for around five hours.
One officer demanded: "What are you crying about? You're young, you'll get another wife," he claimed, telling Mauritius Supreme Court that on the day she died his "life ended as well".
Two former employees at the hotel, Avinash Treebhoowoon, 30, and 42-year-old Sandip Moneea have denied murdering Michaela McAreavey in January 2011. Their trial has often been unruly and interrupted by laughter as the judge has struggled to maintain order. There have been chaotic scenes outside the courthouse as some locals have expressed support for the defendants.
One flamboyant defence counsel announced that he was stepping down from the case.
In his evidence as a witness for the prosecution John McAreavey said it had been "love at first sight" when he met Michaela, the daughter of the Irish Gaelic sports personality Mickey Harte, in 2005. He told the crowded courtroom that on the day she was killed she had gone up to their room to fetch biscuits, and when she did not return he followed her.
He said the door of their room in the Legends Hotel's deluxe block was open, and he found her in the bath with the taps running. He said his first thought was that at the last minute she had decided to have a bath, adding: "I ran to the bathroom, dropped my bag and grabbed Michaela."
He pulled his wife, who was cold and had marks on her neck, from the bath, adding: "I was holding her in my arms telling her to wake up. Her lips were blue. I didn't know what was going on. I was grabbing her and trying to press on her chest."
He said he fell to his knees and prayed after trying desperately to revive her, screaming for help.
Mr McAreavey said he felt police had been insensitive towards him. He had been taken to a building, which he described as derelict-looking, and brought to a room where officers took off his shirt and examined him for marks.
He testified: "I could see what was going through their minds. They put handcuffs on me and I was sat down on a bench. It was for at least five hours, I'm sure – more, actually: it was late into the night." He was eventually released after providing a statement.
In cross-examination he was questioned by defence lawyers about alleged discrepancies in a total of six statements he made to police. He responded: "During those statements, I didn't care one iota about what was put down. My life had ended, and all my focus was on getting my wife home. I make no excuses for not being able to remember each and every detail."
He said of his wife: "Michaela was a wonderful person, a really special human. She completed my life. She was full of life and full of happiness".Reuse content