THE HUSBAND OF murdered Michaela McAreavey gave his account of how events unfolded on the day she died last year at a court in Port Louis, Mauritius today.
A teary-eyed John McAreavey, an accountant from Co Down, told the court: “My wife was killed. My dreams are shattered forever I miss her a lot.”
He was testifying for the prosecution in their case against Avinash Treebhoowon and Sandip Moneea, two former employees of the Legends Hotel who are accused of killing his wife Michaela on 10 January 2011. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The daughter of Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte was strangled in room 1025 of the now renamed Lux hotel, located in Grand Gaube in Mauritius.
Examined by Mehdi Manrakhan, leading counsel for the prosecution, the witness, whose full name is John James McAreavey, gave a long statement on the story of the couple with a moving description of his deceased wife.
“She was a wonderful person. She completed my whole life. As she was the only daughter of the family, she was loved by her parents, cherished by her brothers. She had so many qualities that are difficult to explain,” he told the court. ”She was a deeply religious person, charming and full of life, full of happiness. I can’t find words to say how much she meant to me.”
McAreavey told the court how he met Michaela Harte in 2005 at university: “It was love at first sight and we were pretty inseparable since then.” He went on to explain how the couple bought a house which they rented before planning to move in together after they were married.
McAreavey, for whom Dick Ng Sui Wa is acting as legal watching brief, then provided an explanation of the photos he had, at the request of counsel, produced to the court. They had been taken in Dubai, the first leg of their honeymoon which they flew to on 1 January and where they spent a week.
The couple then came to Mauritius for a further week. Recalling the events of that fateful day he told the court how he and Michaela got out of bed at 9am. They left their room and took about ten minutes to get to the main restaurant to have breakfast.
“We returned in our room at 10.45am and I left Michaela to follow a golf lesson in the compound of the hotel whilst she went to the swimming pool to sunbathe and read.”
He told the court how Michaela had sent him a text message asking him to get her tampons as she was coming on her period but wanted to go for a swim. McAreavey explained to the court that they were not available at the hotel shop but that he was told by a staff member that he could get them from another shop.
McAreavey said that after his golf lesson he went to meet Michaela who was insistent she get the tampons after which she returned to the couple’s room to change.
Having waited for a time, he went to the room to meet her. McAreavey told the court that on approaching the room he saw a room attendant, whom he identified as one of the accused, Avinash Treebhoowon, waiting with his trolley. Treebhoowon asked him if it was okay to clean the room but McAreavey asked him to wait for five minutes.
The couple returned to the pool for about an hour where they had a chicken curry lunch at the Banian restaurant. After lunch, Michaela ordered a tea.
“She immediately went to the room to retrieve chocolate cookies, of which she was fond,” McAreavey recalled, specifying they were dark Kit Kats which they kept in the minibar of the room.
His voice knotted with emotion, McAreavey explained that he stayed at the restaurant waiting for his wife but after she did not return he walked back to their room and, not having a key, knocked at the door. With no answer he went around the building to the beachfront but could not see anything through the sliding door.
McAreavey returned to the poolside to see if there was a key in the bag that Michaela had left. As there wasn’t he asked a bellboy at reception to come and open the door.
Once inside, McAreavey described how he saw his wife in the bathtub, thinking at first that she wanted hot water but as he approached her discovering that she was not moving. He removed her from the tub and felt how cold she was.
“I thought at first she might have fainted because she has chronic pain during her period. I rushed to the door crying for help,” he said, his voice trembling as he described how he noticed ”a small mark on her neck” realising that something had happened. A short time later a doctor confirmed Michaela had died.
“My wife was killed. My life changed since that day. My dreams are shattered forever. I miss her a lot. Everything is over for me. My life was destroyed,” he told the court from the witness stand.
Questioned by police in the immediate aftermath of his wife’s death he told the court of how he deplored the conduct of police officers towards him.
He said that as he was being brought to the police station for questioning, one officer told him: “Why are you crying? You are still young. You can go find another wife.”
Cross examined by Mr Teeluckdharry, counsel for the accused Treebhoowoon, McAreavey was asked if he would be surprised to learn that his wife was not wearing a tampon but a sanitary pad when her body was examined by the doctor. “Yes I would be surprised,” McAreavey responded.
Teeluckdharry questioned why McAreavey had not mentioned in six statements to the police that he wasn’t able to buy tampons at the hotel shop to which the witness responded that he was not “in a normal state”.
McAreavey was also cross-examined by Rama Valayden, counsel for the accused Moneea. Under questioning he said that nothing had been stolen from his belongings and that the only valuables they had were their rings.
McAreavey also denied that the sliding door on the front was opened as claimed by the bellboy, according to the defence counsel. McAreavey could also not explain why there was no recording of his going to room 1025 on the 9 January, the night before his wife’s death, at around 9pm to get Michaela’s favourite chocolate as he had told the court earlier.
This evening the court heard from one other witness, Brice Lunot, the manager of the Legends hotel who will be cross-examined tomorrow.
The trial continues.
Yesterday: Defence lawyers accuse key witness of lying>