'When I saw Michaela in the bath, I grabbed her and screamed'
THE heartbroken young widower of Michaela Harte is certain she is watching over him and helping him through this torment.
Speaking for the first time since her murder during their honeymoon in Mauritius, John McAreavey told of his shock upon discovering her body in their hotel room and said Michaela's death was "just the worst thing imaginable".
The young accountant revealed how when the local police in Mauritius came on the scene, he was initially treated as a suspect in the investigation of Michaela's death.
"Yeah, that happened," he said, adding: "When you're at rock bottom it doesn't really matter anymore what anyone says or does."
He told how he has been struggling to cope in the aftermath of her brutal murder while on honeymoon on the island in the Indian Ocean in January.
Dressed in a simple grey hooded sweatshirt, Mr McAreavey, at times struggling to hold back his emotions, told an RTE documentary how the couple had first met while in their second year at Queen's University in Belfast and within three weeks both decided that they would be spending the rest of their lives together.
"Maybe it was a wee bit presumptuous but I suppose when you know, you know," he said, adding that they "got on like house on fire".
"It was just a matter of planning the rest of our lives together -- we loved to do that. It was a straight road where we were going," he said.
The days up to her death had been as perfect a honeymoon as anyone could wish it to be, while the last day the couple spent together at their beachside hotel had been "like any beautiful day", he said on the documentary, 'Michaela, Finding Peace', which was screened last night on RTE One.
Michaela's father, Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte, broke down as he spoke of his daughter's wedding day and of how John could not have been a better son-in-law.
"Michaela chose very well," he said.
John told how he and Michaela had woken, had breakfast together and he went to have a golf lesson while Michaela relaxed by the hotel poolside. When he returned, they went for lunch.
"Obviously, that was the last time we were able to spend any time together in this world," he said.
When Michaela failed to return from her room after going to fetch a chocolate biscuit to have with her post-lunch cup of tea, he went looking for her.
Finding her body in the bath of their room was "just the worst thing imaginable," he said.
"When I saw Michaela in the bath, I had to go over and just ran and grabbed her out and screamed for help."
A porter arrived at the room with the hotel manager and another man.
CPR was attempted, while John held his wife and repeated: "Come on, Michaela, come on."
He said it was a "wee while" before the doctor came -- but by that stage, she had "passed".
Describing this time in his life as "very, very difficult," he said it was a "very dark place" and he felt "utter despair".
It was obvious from early on that Michaela had not died of natural causes, but he had not wanted to believe this.
In the aftermath of her death, he felt he needed to have her rosary beads and her wedding rings.
"Once I got my hands on those, I felt that I wasn't on my own," he said.
Throughout her funeral, he felt the presence of his young wife with him.
He spoke also of his regret that the couple had not gotten married much sooner -- but said that in the five years they had been together, they had only been apart for three nights.
Now, in the months after her death and without a plan for the first time in his life, he is trying to live in the present and not to look too far ahead.
Trying to rekindle the passion for life is hard but he hopes to get it back someday.
"At the minute I just don't have it," he added simply.