Northern Ireland

Michaela was my rock says John McAreavey

Michaela McAreavey and John McAreavey
Image caption Michaela Harte married John McAreavey on 30 December

The husband of Michaela McAreavey, who was murdered on honeymoon, in Mauritius has described her as "his rock".

In a statement, John McAreavey said he still could not take it in that his wife had been taken from him.

Mrs McAreavey, 27, was found strangled at the Legends Hotel on Monday.

Three hotel staff have appeared in court in Mauritius charged in connection with her murder. Two of the men were charged with murder and one with conspiracy to murder.

Mrs McAreavey, who was the daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte, had married her husband John, a member of Down's Gaelic football team, on 30 December.

She taught Irish at St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon, County Tyrone.

Her husband John, said their hopes, dreams and future are gone and he has been left heartbroken and totally devastated.

"I love my wife, very, very much and my world revolved around her. I can't describe in words how lost I feel as Michaela is not just the light of my life - she is my life," Mr McAreavey said.

Her family hope to have her body repatriated by the weekend, with burial early next week.

It is expected that the funeral mass for Michaela McAreavey will take place at the church where she was married - St Malachy's in Ballymacilroy, County Tyrone.

Accused

Image caption Sandip Moneea, 41, Raj Theekoy, 33, and Avinash Treebhoowoon, 29, have been charged over the killing

On Wednesday evening, a police chief in Mauritius told the Press Association that skin tissue found under the fingernails of Mrs McAreavey could prove crucial to the police case against the three men charged over her killing.

The men in court were Avinash Treebhoowoon, 29, Sandip Moneea, 41, and 33-year-old Raj Theekoy.

Mr Trebhoowoon and Mr Moneea were charged with murder. Mr Theekoy was accused of conspiracy to murder.

One of the defendants claimed he had been beaten while being questioned by police.

The men were remanded in police custody for a week and will return to court next Wednesday, when they are expected either to be formally charged or released.

The BBC's Justine Lang, who was outside the court in Mapou in the north of the island, said the key cards used to access the hotel room are believed to be central to the investigation.

"They can tell from the electronic magnetic strip who entered the room and when," she said. "We are told that someone entered the room two minutes before she (Michaela) entered."

John McAreavey's brother Brian and Michaela's brother Mark arrived on the island on Wednesday.

BBC NI reporter Mervyn Jess, who was on the same flight, spoke to them briefly.

"Brian told me he could not wait to get to his brother to provide some sort of comfort for him," he said.

'Beautiful daughter'

On Tuesday, Mickey Harte, a celebrated manager in one of Ireland's most popular sports, paid tribute to his "beautiful" daughter.

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

Mr Harte said that his daughter's husband was also in everyone's thoughts.

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

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.

Mrs 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 stolen.

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