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Murder of Michaela McAreavey

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Michaela McAreavey née Harte (Irish: Micheáilín Mhic Giolla Riabhaigh née Ní hÁirt, 31 December 1983 – 10 January 2011), while on her honeymoon in Mauritius, was found strangled in the bath of her hotel room.[1] The daughter of Tyrone's multiple All-Ireland Senior Football Championship-winning Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte, her death and subsequent events prompted continuing widespread international media coverage.

Michaela McAreavey
Photo of Michaela Harte at right, with father Mickey Harte centre, and brother Matthew at left, celebrating Tyrone's 2003 football final win.
Michaela Harte celebrated Tyrone's win in the 2003 All-Ireland final with brother Matthew (left) and father Mickey, manager of the team (centre).
Michaela Harte

31 December 1983
Died10 January 2011(2011-01-10) (aged 27)
Cause of deathStrangulation
Body discovered10 January 2011,
Legends Hotel (renamed LUX Grand Gaube) in Grand Gaube, Mauritius
Resting placeSt Malachy's Cemetery, Ballymacilroy
Alma materSt Mary's University College,
Queen's University Belfast
EmployerSt Patrick's Academy, Dungannon
Known forAssociation with the Tyrone Gaelic football team,
Participation in The Rose of Tralee,
Being murdered on her honeymoon
Home townBallygawley, County Tyrone, County Tyrone
Spouse(s)John McAreavey
Parent(s)Mickey and Marian Harte
Murder of Michaela McAreavey is located in Mauritius
Murder of Michaela McAreavey
Location of Legends Hotel in Mauritius

It was the first murder of a tourist in Mauritius;[2][3] the Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam expressed his sympathy to the Harte and McAreavey families.[4] Two hotel workers who were accused of her murder have been tried and declared not-guilty by the Supreme Court of Mauritius, they were acquitted on 12 July 2012.[5][6]


Michaela McAreavey, born Michaela Harte, was a 27-year-old Irish language teacher from Glencull (Ballygawley, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland) and the daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte. She had been the Ulster Rose at the 2004 Rose of Tralee.[7]

In the words of GAA president Christy Cooney, "Michaela was a familiar face to so many GAA followers up and down the country, having been at her father's side through what has been the most memorable period in the history of the GAA in Tyrone."[8]

Michaela was Catholic and a Pioneer and was seen to be religious. She taught Irish and Religion at St Patricks Academy, Dungannon, where she ran the "Pioneer Club" encouraging young people to abstain from alcohol.


On 10 January 2011, Michaela and her husband John had lunch at their hotel in Grand Gaube. After lunch, at about 2:44 pm she went to her room.[9] Investigators believe she was wrestled to the ground on entering her room and strangled. She was put into the bath and the water was turned on.[10] Her body was discovered by her husband soon after.[11]


Three male Mauritian employees of the hotel were later arrested for the murder: Avinash Treebhoowoon, Sandip Moneea and Raj Theekoy.[12] They appeared in court in Mauritius on 12 January 2011.[13] Treebhoowoon and Mooneea were charged with McAreavey's murder and Theekoy with conspiracy to murder.[14] DNA tests were taken on the suspects.[15] Dassen Narraien,[12] and Seenarain Mungoo were arrested the following week and charged with aiding and abetting a crime.[16] Narraien and Mungoo were both security officers at the hotel.[16] Mungoo was released and had all charges against him dropped on 12 February 2011.[17]


McAreavey was brought home to be waked. Notables to visit the wake included Cardinal Edward Daly; 1992 All-Ireland winning manager Brian McEniff; GAA President Christy Cooney, Northern Ireland's First Minister and deputy First Ministers, the Democratic Unionist Peter Robinson and Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness; sports minister Nelson McCausland, enterprise minister Arlene Foster and justice committee chairman Maurice Morrow, Baron Morrow. Four of these five politicians were from the other side of the political divide.[18]

McAreavey's funeral, which took place on 17 January 2011 at the same church where she was married (St Malachy's, Ballymacilroy), less than one month before, was attended by thousands of mourners, including then President of Ireland Mary McAleese and Northern Ireland's First Minister and deputy First Minister Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness.[19] Mourners from both nationalist and loyalist communities paid their respects and offered condolences.[20] A special mass was held simultaneously in Mauritius in memory of Michaela led by the island's senior priest, Fr Goupille.[19]


The trial of two hotel workers accused of murdering Michaela McAreavey began in Mauritius on 22 May 2012.[21]

On 6 June 2012, John McAreavey said he was handcuffed by police officers and they examined his body for marks.[22] He also saw one of the accused (Avinash Treebhoowoon) on two occasions within a number of minutes the day his wife died.[23] McAreavey said that he had gone back to the hotel room looking for his wife when she failed to return to the restaurant after leaving him to get some biscuits from their room to eat with their cups of tea. He found her unconscious in the bath, with the tap running and laid her on the floor and then tried to revive her.[24][25] The DNA test made by a forensic expert from England revealed that no DNA traces of the two men accused and the other two original suspects were found on Michaela McAreavey body and at the crime scene except the DNA of John McAreavey.[26]

The Major Crime Investigation Team (MCIT), in particular, faced severe criticism for its handling of the case and for claims by defendant Mr Treebhoowoon who alleges that police beat a confession out of him, he was subjected to three days of beatings by officers before he confessed that he strangled Michaela because she caught him and co-defendant Sandip Moneea stealing from her hotel room.[26][27]


On 12 July 2012, the judge Prithviraj Fekna told the jurors not to worry about what ramifications any verdict may have on the reputation of Mauritius. He reminded the six men and three women that they were not politicians and it was not their job to protect the image of the country. "You have been told that this will have an international ramification and will affect the image of Mauritius… this is not your role," Fekna said. "You must not allow yourself to be influenced by this, you are not politicians, you have to base yourself on what has happened."[28]

Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea were declared not-guilty by the nine member jury.[5][6][29][30][31][32] In a statement released after the verdict, the McAreavey and Harte families said that following the endurance of "seven harrowing weeks of this trial" there were no words, which could "describe the sense of devastation and desolation now felt by both families".[32][33] The case was originally listed to run for nine days but the verdict came in its eighth week. The jury had deliberated for two hours and returned a unanimous verdict.[34]

Lawyers representing Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea called for all evidence in the case to be given to non-Mauritian investigators, describing Mauritius's MCIT as "incompetent".[35]


Following the verdict of the Supreme Court of Mauritius, the Mauritian government issued a statement: "The government and the people of Mauritius understand and continue to share the grief and agony of the Harte and McAreavey families, the Government is considering all options concerning further action in this matter, with a view to bringing the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice."[36][37]

Some Irish people started an internet campaign calling for a boycott of the Mauritian tourism sector, one of the main pillars of the island's economy. However some argue that the whole Mauritian population should not be blamed for the mistakes of a few people.[38] The Irish politician Seán Kelly supported the campaign by saying: "No justice for Michaela McAreavey in Mauritius. It is a massive indictment of Mauritius authorities’ incompetence. No Irish should visit Mauritius yet until justice is done."[39][40][41] Calls for a boycott intensified following the events of 15 July 2012.[42]

On 15 July 2012, a new Mauritian newspaper called Sunday Times published photographs of the hotel room crime scene, including images of Michaela's body in its 35th edition. The front page featured a photograph of Michaela's body under the headline "Exclusive".[43] A spokesperson for the Harte and McAreavey families said: “As the families struggle to come [to terms] with the result from the trial - this action by the newspaper is not only insensitive to their grief but marks another low in the treatment of John, the two families and the dignity of Michaela.”[44]

Reacting to the publication, Taoiseach Enda Kenny stated: "On behalf of the people of Ireland, the Government will be lodging a formal complaint in the strongest possible terms, with the government of Mauritius". The McAreavey family lawyer in Mauritius, Dick Ng Sui Wa, called for the perpetrator to be arrested and asked for a full inquiry from the Commission of Police in Mauritius.[45]

Mauritian police launched an inquiry into how the newspaper published the photographs.[46] Police officers raided the offices of the Sunday Times newspaper on the morning of 16 July 2012. They found no photographs.[45] On 18 July 2012, the newspaper's editor and director general, Imran Hosany, was arrested. Later that day, he appeared in court charged with related to the publication of the photographs.[47] He was later released on bail. The Press Employees Union in Mauritius (USEP) issued a statement in support of Hosany: "Both the local press and International news agencies regularly show pictures of murder, bloodied demonstrators, corpses of people killed or injured in conflict areas, among others, The USEP considers that the treatment suffered by the editor of the Sunday Times in the hands of the Mauritius Police is disproportionate to the offences charged."[48][49][50]

A new investigation team was set up in August 2012 to start an inquiry. Thirty-eight people were interviewed and 68 witnesses participated in a reconstruction of the circumstances of the murder and 350 DNA samples were sent to a laboratory in France.[51] On 27 December 2012 the police submitted a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in which a suspect was named.[51]

In August 2015, after lodging a case against the Legends hotel, John McAreavey and his relatives received nearly Rs 65 Million (£1.6 Million Pound sterling. The legal representative of John McAreavey, Dick Ng Sui Wa claimed that the two parties reached a settlement through mediation. He did not gave any further details as the settlement was confidential.[52]

In November 2015, John McAreavey married again to Tara Brennan with the full blessing of the Harte family.[53]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Michaela's body arrives home". UTV News. 14 January 2011. Archived from the original on January 16, 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
  2. ^ Carey, Sean (17 January 2011). "Has Mauritius lost its allure?". London: Guardian Newspaper, UK. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  3. ^ "Mauritius honeymoon murder: I stayed at resort". Channel 4 News, UK. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  4. ^ McDonald, Henry (14 January 2011). "Body of murdered Michaela McAreavey arrives home". London. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  5. ^ a b McDonald, Henry (11 July 2012). "Michaela McAreavey murder trial: defendants found not guilty". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  6. ^ a b Rossl, Alex (12 July 2012). "Hotel Workers Cleared Of Honeymoon Murder". Sky News. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  7. ^ "Harte tragedy: Michaela was a picture perfect Rose, says RTÉ's Ryan Tubridy". The Belfast Telegraph. 12 January 2011. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
  8. ^ Young, David; Henderson, Deric (12 January 2011). "John McAreavey's simple message: I love my wife". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
  9. ^ "Michaela murder: Mystery as police admit no other leads". Irish Independent. 13 July 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  10. ^ "Harte tragedy: Skin found under Michaela's nails crucial to case". The Belfast Telegraph. 13 January 2011. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
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  12. ^ a b McDonald, Henry (14 January 2011). "Mauritius honeymoon murder: hotel workers in court". London: Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  13. ^ "Harte tragedy: Hotel workers in court over paradise island honeymoon death". The Belfast Telegraph. 13 January 2011. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  14. ^ "Harte tragedy: John tells of anguish as trio face Michaela murder charges". The Belfast Telegraph. 13 January 2011. Archived from the original on 21 July 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  15. ^ "Police await DNA tests in McAreavey murder case". Google News. AFP. 14 January 2011. Archived from the original on 25 January 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
  16. ^ a b "Fifth man arrested over Michaela McAreavey murder". BBC News. BBC. 19 January 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  17. ^ "Man released over Michaela McAreavey death". The Belfast Telegraph. 12 February 2011. Archived from the original on 19 July 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  18. ^ Maguire, Stephen (17 January 2011). "Body of bride murdered on honeymoon is laid out in wedding dress while clutching love letter at wake attended by thousands". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  19. ^ a b "Michaela's family 'robbed by evil act'". UTV News. 17 January 2011. Archived from the original on January 20, 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
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  29. ^ "Michaela Harte Murder Trial: The 2 Mauritians Are Innocent". Sparking Dawn. 12 July 2012. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012.
  30. ^ Laing, Aislinn (11 July 2012). "Michaela McAreavey family 'devastated' after murder suspects acquitted". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
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  32. ^ a b Vinter, Phil; Preece, Rob (11 July 2012). "Two hotel workers found NOT GUILTY of murdering a honeymoon bride in her hotel room in Mauritius". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  33. ^ "Two former hotel workers found not guilty of Michaela McAreavey murder". RTÉ News. 11 July 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  34. ^ "Not guilty: Michaela murder suspects acquitted by jury". Irish Independent. 11 July 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  35. ^ Rogers, Stephen; Nagapa-Chetty, Mayessen (19 July 2012). "Give Michaela evidence to foreign police, say lawyers". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  36. ^ "Affaire Harte : le gouvernement dit considérer toutes les options pour traduire « les auteurs du crime » en justice". Le Defi Media. Archived from the original on July 15, 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  37. ^ "Michaela McAreavey's family condemn 'repugnant' photographs printed in Mauritius". The Telegraph. Retrieved 19 July 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  38. ^ "Boycott Mauritius and visit heaven: Ireland". Island Crisis. 20 July 2012. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012.
  39. ^ "Sean Kelly calls for a boycott of Mauritius". The Daily Shift. Archived from the original on 5 March 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  40. ^ "Affaire Harte : un député irlandais appelle au boycott de Maurice". Le Defi Media. Archived from the original on 18 February 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  41. ^ "Mauritius faces Irish travel boycott". The Sun. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  42. ^ Counihan, Patrick (17 July 2012). "Boycott Mauritius campaign grows in wake of Michaela McAreavey newspaper photo scandal: Donegal travel agent refuses to sell holidays to honeymoon resort". Irish Central. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  43. ^ "Anger Over Michaela McAreavey Body Photos". Sky News. 15 July 2012. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  44. ^ "Mauritius paper publishes photos of Michaela McAreavey body in hotel room". RTÉ News. 15 July 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  45. ^ a b "Mauritian newspaper's offices raided over Michaela McAreavey photo leak". RTÉ News. 16 July 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
  46. ^ Telford, Lyndsey (16 July 2012). "Mauritius police raid paper's offices over leaked images". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
  47. ^ "Michaela Harte photos case – Editor of Mauritian Sunday Times bailed". KotZot. 22 July 2012. Archived from the original on 28 July 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  48. ^ "Mauritian editor on Michaela photographs charge bailed". BBC world. 20 July 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  49. ^ Forde, Fiona (18 July 2012). "Michaela murder: Detectives question death pictures editor". Irish Independent. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  50. ^ "Michaela murder: newspaper chief charged with photographer assault". BBC News. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  51. ^ a b "Michaela McAreavey murder: Mauritius police reportedly identify suspect". BBC. 27 December 2012. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  52. ^ "Affaire Michaela Harte: John McAreavey et ses proches obtiennent près de Rs 65 millions". L'Express. 17 August 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  53. ^ "Mariage en vue pour John McAreavey". L'Express. 1 November 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2016.

External linksEdit