Northern Ireland

Mickey Harte pays tribute to honeymoon death daughter

Tyrone Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte has paid tribute to his "beautiful" daughter who was murdered.

"She was a wonderful daughter, a brilliant sister for the boys and we will always treasure her," he said.

Michaela McAreavey, 27, was found dead in her bathtub at the four-star Legends Hotel in Mauritius. A post-mortem has revealed she was strangled.

She married John McAreavey, a member of Down's Gaelic football team, on 30 December. The couple were on honeymoon.

Ten people have been questioned over the death. A number of people are still being questioned. Mr McAreavey is not a suspect.

Local reports suggest police are focussing on two suspects.

Image caption Michaela Harte married John McAreavey on 30 December

Police are examining CCTV footage from the complex.

Mr Harte described his daughter as a "gem".

"What a day she had on her wedding day. She was just radiant - a beautiful girl, I just love her to bits and so does all our family.

"Michaela was a wonderful lovely wee girl who grew into a beautiful lady. Just radiant. She is just so special.

"She will always be special to me and this family. We will miss her so much but we love her to bits and her spirit is with us still."

Mr Harte also made a special appeal on behalf of Michaela's husband, John widowed after less than two weeks of marriage.

"We are so sorry. We are equally sorry for poor John whom she adored and who adored her.

"They did not get long to share their lives with each other. It is just such a shame, our hearts are broken.

"John is isolated out there, he has had an awful time. Our hearts go out to him," he said.

"I would ask anybody in the press out there to please respect his privacy."

Mr Harte said he was also speaking on behalf of Mr McAreavey.

Image caption Scene of crime police officer outside the McAreavey honeymoon suite

"He is devastated, leave him alone. He is in a lonely place. Even his own family members are not out there yet so please back off."

An official from the Irish Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, is travelling to Mauritius to help Mr McAreavey.

Mr Harte also appealed for privacy for the families and friends to allow them to grieve.

"I know there are lots of people who have had this experience before and we have tried to empathise with them, but you can't get the feeling unless you've been there.

"God save anybody from having to go to this place.

"This is our day to bear this cross."

Police Inspector Ranjit Jokhoo told the BBC that Mr and Mrs McAreavey had been having a cup of tea at an outdoor cafe after using the swimming pool at the Indian Ocean resort.

Ms McAreavey then went back to her room, which was about 50m away, to fetch something, said to be biscuits for her tea, Insp Jokhoo said.

When she failed to return after 20 to 30 minutes, her husband went to the room to look for her. He found her dead in the bathtub in the room.

The inspector said that the killer had used an electronic key card to enter the room, as there had been no forced entry. He said that nothing had been found to have been stolen.

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