MICHAELA McAreavey’s widower John has told of the moment he found his wife lying dead in the bath of their honeymoon suite in Mauritius in January last year.
The 31-year-old accountant from Co Down had to stop a number of times while giving evidence at the trial of two men accused of Michaela’s murder just two weeks after the couple’s wedding.
John returned to Mauritius with his father Brendan, sister Claire and brother-in-law Mark Harte for the beginning of the trial more than two weeks ago, but has been kept away from proceedings as he is a witness in the case.
The widower was asked to recall how he met his wife, a 27-year-old schoolteacher from Co Tyrone at the time of her death, and told the court “it was love at first sight.”
Describing the moment he found his wife, John said he tried to revive his bride and then fell to his knees to pray that she would be ok.
“Michaela was cold,” he said, his voice halting. “And her lips were blue and I kept on just saying ‘Michaela, Michaela, wake up, come on, come on’.
“Then I could see this mark on her neck. I didn’t know what was going on, I didn’t know what was going on. I was grabbing her and trying to press on her chest and trying to attempt CPR. I don’t even know CPR. I was just holding her in my arms, telling her to come on, just to wake up.”
The devastated husband said his life had ended when his “wonderful, wonderful” wife died.
In the hours after Michaela’s murder, John told how he was treated by police.
He said he was handcuffed and left alone in a room for more than five hours in the wake Michaela’s murder, with one officer telling him: ‘What are you crying about? You’re young, you’ll get another wife’.
He revealed that later four officers drove him away from the hotel in a jeep but stopped on the way for food at a road-side stall. He said he was eventually released after making a statement and returned to the hotel where a nurse cared for him through the night.
Earlier this week the trial heard that a key prosecution witness was held in police custody for 77 days following the killing.
Raj Theekoy - who was initially charged in the investigation because it was alleged he failed to come to Michaela’s help when he heard her screams - earlier told the court he saw the accused Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea leave the room shortly after he heard screams of “a woman in pain”.
The former room attendant was questioned on Wednesday about inconsistencies in his statements to police, particularly his actions following Mrs McAreavey’s death, where CCTV footage showed him in the hotel canteen with Mr Treebhoowoon.
At first he denied that he had been there drinking tea with the accused, saying “No, I did not do that.”
But when the CCTV pictures were shown he admitted being there but said he had been drinking juice.
In a dramatic development also last week one of the defence barristers pulled out of the trial, but will return as a witness in the case.
Last week it also emerged that police investigating the murder had not taken statements from potential key witnesses.
The court was told that a couple staying at the hotel who wanted to make a statement to detectives were not given the opportunity.
The trial heard that the residents staying in rooms adjacent to the McAreavey’s suite in the complex were not questioned after the murder.
The court was told that the hotel nurse and a doctor staying at the resort who both attended Mrs McAreavey were not interviewed by the Mauritian police.
The trial continues. Both the accused deny the murder.