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Mickey Harte’s tribute to honeymooning daughter found strangled in Mauritius hotel |


 

‘She was my gem’: Grieving father’s tribute to honeymooning daughter found strangled in Mauritius hotel

By Eva Marie Gibney Mail Online

Devastated: Mickey Harte with daughter Michaela on the day of her wedding

Devastated: Mickey Harte with daughter Michaela on the day of her wedding

Heartbroken Mickey Harte last night described his murdered daughter Michaela as ‘a gem’.

The Tyrone manager’s tribute came three hotel workers were remanded in custody in Mauritius today charged in connection with the murder of the honeymooner.

The men, all employed at the luxury Legends Hotel where the newlywed teacher was found strangled, appeared in court in Mapou Court on the north of the island.

Two were charged with murder and one with conspiracy to murder.

Mauritius police said the two men charged with the 27-year-old’s murder were Abinash Treeboowoon, 29, a room attendant from Plaine des Roches, and Sandip Moneea, 41, a floor supervisor from Petit Raffray.

Room attendant Raj Theekoy, 33, faced the conspiracy charge.

During a brief hearing they spoke only to confirm their names, addresses and dates of birth, police said.

Magistrate Bono Mally remanded them in police custody for a week and they will return to court next Wednesday, when they are expected either to be formally charged or released.

Meanwhile, the horrific details of her final moments on the paradise island of Mauritius have emerged.

The 27-year-old’s body was discovered by her husband half submerged in the bathtub of their hotel bedroom on Monday afternoon, with the water still running.

Police suspect that her killers placed her body in the bath in an attempt to make her death look like a suicide drowning.

Police commissioner Tishur Ranpersad revealed that the evidence against the suspects is circumstantial.

‘They have not confessed but we have circumstantial sort of evidence but we are trying to find some other evidence to link them to the charge,’ he said.

He said the use of a key card to open the couple’s bedroom door was critical to the case.

‘Not all people have access to these cards,’ he said.

The police chief also confirmed that Mrs McAreavey may have tried to fight off her attacker.

‘There is some signs, indications, that she might have struggled. From what we have obtained from her nails, the collections we have obtained from her nails, it looks like there may have been some struggle,’ he said.

He said officers identified the suspects by checking who had access to the ground floor of the hotel and the rooms on that level.

‘I suspect the guy was in trying to rob and the lady caught him red-handed. I’m just guessing,’ the Commissioner told RTE Radio.

‘I’m saying we have a very open mind. There may have been some other guy who did the job,’ he said.

It is hoped a trial will take place within six months.

Last night, Mr Harte said her death was ‘too horrible to contemplate’.

‘It’s the worst of the worst, our hearts are just broken,’ he added.

‘This is our day to bear this cross.’

Flanked by two of his three sons, Matthew and Michael, he said: ‘She was a gem and we’ll always remember her. She was a lovely girl, a wonderful daughter, a brilliant sister, and we will always treasure her.

Harte murder

Mickey Harte with two of his sons, Matthew (left) and Michael, speaking about the death of his daughter Michaela, at the family home outside Ballygawley in Co Tyrone yesterday

Suspect Sandip Monnea, left, escorted to the court by plainclothes policeman as he was brought in Mapou Court, Port Louis Mauritius

Avinash Treebohun

Third Suspect Raj Theekoy, is escorted to the court by plainclothes policeman as he was brought in Mapou Court, Port Louis, Mauritius

Suspects:  Sandip Monnea, Avinash Treebohun and Raj Theekoy are led into the court by plainclothes policemen in Port Louis, Mauritius, this afternoon

Luxury holiday: A view of the swimming pool at the five-star Legends Hotel in Mauritius, where the newly-wed couple were staying

Luxury holiday: A view of the swimming pool at the five-star Legends Hotel in Mauritius, where the newly-wed couple were staying

She was a beautiful girl. She couldn’t be better, couldn’t be nicer. God love her, we are so, so sorry. Our hearts are broken.

‘I just want to say that I know lots of people have had this experience before and I’ve tried to empathise with them. But you can’t get the feeling unless you’ve been there, and God save anybody from having to be in this place.’

Match made in heaven: John McAreavey and Michaela Harte on their wedding day

Match made in heaven: John McAreavey and Michaela Harte on their wedding day

He later told friends: ‘There must be some meaning in this, but right now, I can’t see it.’

Police in Mauritius suspect more than one attacker helped to kill the secondary school teacher after she surprised them in her room. They believe the killer or killers were known to her from the hotel.

Data taken from the door’s electronic lock revealed that her attacker entered the room at 2.42pm, just two minutes before Michaela.

The intruder is believed to have used one of three magnetic skeleton key cards that can unlock all room doors and are given to room service employees.

She and her husband of just 11 days, John McAreavey, had been eating lunch at a poolside restaurant when she decided to return to the hotel room to collect some biscuits.

Inspector Ranjig Jokoo said: ‘We believe Michaela might have been seen by her intruder, who was already in the room to commit a theft.

‘We believe that the person killed her because they did not want her to identify them to police later.

‘I cannot say as yet whether it was definitely a member of staff or an ex member of staff or if, maybe, it was someone who was just familiar with the hotel’s computerised key card system.

‘But we have some of the staff from the hotel helping us to know what happened and they are the first persons who need to be interrogated.’

Local journalist Gilles Martial said that police believed her body had been moved to the bathtub after she was murdered.

He told the Irish Daily Mail: ‘It appears they put her body in the bathtub and then turned on the tap and half-filled the bathtub to simulate a suicide drowning.’

But a post-mortem examination later revealed she had died of strangulation after a violent struggle.

There were cuts and bruises to her body and head, and pieces of dead skin were found under her fingernails.

Swabs have been taken from the scene and sent for further testing.

There are no CCTV cameras in the corridor outside her room.

The Central Investigation Division in Mauritius was questioning up to ten suspects last night.

Inspectors yesterday said all staff on duty that day who had access to room key cards were being questioned.

Local police chief Supt Yussuf Soopun said he firmly believed that the perpetrator was local.

Michaela’s husband discovered her body just after 3pm after becoming concerned that she had not returned to the poolside restaurant where they had been dining.

Detectives said Mr McAreavey could not gain access to the room because he had left his key card in a pocket of his clothes in the room.

He went downstairs to summon hotel staff and when he returned to Room 1025 he found his wife’s body in the bathtub.

One of the three suspects charged today with the murder of Michaela McAreavey sits inside a police vehicle outside of a courthouse in Port Louis this afternoon

One of the three suspects charged today with the murder of Michaela McAreavey sits inside a police vehicle outside of a courthouse in Port Louis this afternoon

Investigation: Mauritian police investigators work at the scene of a crime at the Legends Hotel

Investigation: Mauritian police investigators work at the scene of a crime at the Legends Hotel

General Manager Brice Lunot, accompanied by the hotel doctor, administered first aid to Michaela but it was too late.

Mr Lunot said: ‘I remember her eyes were closed and her body was very white. John was in the room. He was quite shocked.

‘He kept calling for an ambulance. He was saying, “Where is the ambulance? Where is the ambulance?”’

Inspector Jokoo said Mr McAreavey was still in a deep state of shock.

‘He is helping us with our inquiries as best he can but he is in a very bad shape,’ he added.

‘He is very emotional and he is obviously still suffering from the shock of his wife being murdered on their honeymoon.’

Mr McAreavey, a Down GAA player, had celebrated his marriage to the former Rose of Tralee contestant 11 days earlier at St Malachy’s Church, Ballymacilroy, in Co Tyrone on December 30.

His uncle, Bishop John McAreavey, concelebrated the Mass.

The couple had started their honeymoon in Dubai before flying to Mauritius, where they had planned to remain until this Sunday.

 Mickey Harte

Difficult times: Mickey Harte (centre), is comforted at the family home outside Ballygawley in Co Tyrone after speaking about the death of his daughter Michaela

Mr McAreavey’s brother and one of Michaela’s three brothers was due to land in Mauritius today to help support the grieving husband.

Yesterday, management at Legends Hotel said they were providing all support to the grieving families and to police.

In a statement the hotel said: ‘Certain family members of the couple have advised us of their intention to travel to Mauritius.

‘Legends is arranging for a religious service to be held for the family of the deceased.’

Paul Jones, the chief executive of the hotel group, offered his condolences to the families.

He said: ‘I am distraught by this news. Every possible support will be given to the bereaved families and we thank the government for the assistance and co-operation that has been extended to us and the bereaved families as well.

‘The police are conducting an inquiry and we await the results of the investigation.’

Legends general manager Brice Lunot said a special religious service had been organised.

Two priests were also called to assist Mr McAreavey yesterday.

Legends spokesman Julian Hagger said it had been the intention of Mr McAreavey to stay on at the hotel despite the tragedy but that the intense media scrutiny was making this difficult for him. He described Mr McAreavey as being ‘quite visibly heartbroken’.

He said he was ‘visibly still in shock and I believe will remain so for quite some time’.

In his statement yesterday, Mr Harte spoke at length about his son-in-law and pleaded with the media to leave the young man alone.

‘John has been a special lad – and he’d have to be a special lad if he was going to be Michaela’s husband,’ he said.

‘And I would ask now too – I know that John is out in Mauritius, he’s had an awful time and our hearts go out to him – and I would ask that the press corps out there please respect his privacy.

‘The lad is devastated and he’s our son in law, he’s a wonderful young man and please lay off. Let’s take this message here, let’s speak on his behalf.

Sorrow: Michaela's family home outside Ballygawley

Sorrow: Michaela’s family home outside Ballygawley

‘He’s devastated and through us he wants to say leave him alone. Let him grieve, he’s in such a lonely place and even his own family members aren’t out there yet. So please, please back off.’

Mauritius Tourism Minister Nando Bodha was interviewed on The Last Word on Today FM yesterday.

He said he had spoken to Mr McAreavey earlier and had asked if there was anything he would like him to mention while on air.

He said that Mr McAreavey replied: ‘I love my wife.’

GAA president Christy Cooney last night joined the flood of tributes to Michaela, who was a passionate GAA supporter.

‘Michaela was a familiar face to so many GAA followers up and down the country,’ he said. Her radiant smile, passion for life and interest in all things Gaelic were immediately obvious to anyone who crossed her path.

‘The loss to those who loved her most must be incalculable at this most difficult time. Her presence at not only football matches but in so many areas of life will be sadly missed at a time when she and her husband should have been planning a bright future together.’

In the final lines of his tribute to his daughter, Mr Harte said yesterday: ‘Twenty-seven years of a wonderful, lovely wee girl who grew up into a beautiful lady and she’s just radiant and she’s just so special and she’ll always be special to me and this family.

‘And we will miss her so much but we’ll love her to bits and her spirit is with us because it has to be now because how else could I say this if it wasn’t.’ Despite the tragedy, Mr Harte has said that his Tyrone team’s Dr McKenna Cup game against Fermanagh should go ahead at the weekend.

Mickey Harte’s tribute to honeymooning daughter found strangled in Mauritius hotel | Mail Online

All by the www.dailymail.co.uk

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January 12, 2011 - Posted by | Blog, Blogroll, CELEBRITY, Death, Disgusting, fraud, Health, Internet, Just Wrong, People, Politics | , , , , , ,

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