Tuesday 20 March 2018

Prayers for tragic Michaela ahead of murder trial

Cormac McQuinn in Mauritius

THE heartbroken husband of Michaela McAreavey has had a private Mass said for her as he prepares to face the men accused of killing her.

Fr Pat Murphy, the Mauritius-based priest who comforted John McAreavey in the wake of his wife's death, told the Irish Independent the young man is in "good form" but faces a "trying period" during the trial, which is due to begin in the country's Supreme Court today.

Fr Murphy said a private Mass for Mr McAreavey, his father Brendan, sister Claire and brother-in-law Mark Harte, in their hideaway on the island on Sunday.

Mr McAreavey (27) is to appear as a witness in the trial of hotel workers Avinash Treebhowon (29) and Sandip Moonea (41). Both have been charged with the young bride's murder.

Michaela stumbled upon a robbery in her room at the luxury Legends resort and was attacked while she was on honeymoon with her husband in January of last year.

Mr McAreavey and his family arrived in Mauritius last Friday and were immediately taken to a secret location on the island, a house owned by the Catholic church.

The gated house is watched around the clock by a member of the Mauritius Police. It is in the house's small private oratory that Fr Murphy, who has lived in Mauritius for more than 50 years, said Mass on Sunday and the family prayed for Michaela.

He told the Irish Independent: "I spent a couple of hours with the family there, some of the Loreto sisters came too."

According to Fr Murphy, prayers were said for Michaela and her family during the Mass, which took place just two days before the trial is due to begin.

He was touched when the family gave him a prayer card featuring images of Michaela and a prayer, printed in her writing, that she had written herself.

Fr Murphy said that Mr McAreavey and his family preferred that the Mass take place in the private oratory rather than a nearby church because "they didn't want publicity".


He said that the bishop of Port Louis, Maurice Piet, had arranged John's accommodation after being contacted by his uncle, the Bishop of Dromore, Dr John McAreavey.

Asked about the trial, Fr Murphy said: "We just have to wait and see what happens", adding "It will be a trying period for John and his family."

The priest said that her killing was a "huge shock" for the island and that when he met John last year he was "very down".

The trial of the men accused of Michaela's murder gets under way today before Judge Prithviraj Fekna in what is expected to be a packed Court Number Five of the Supreme Court. More than 30 witnesses will be called, including Raj Theekoy, the prosecution's "star witness" who has been granted immunity in exchange for his testimony.

The former cleaner at Legends Hotel was originally charged in connection with the murder, and is expected to describe how he heard a woman "shouting in pain" moments before Michaela's body was discovered.

Another suspect, Dassen Narainan, has not been called as a witness despite facing charges of his own of conspiracy to commit larceny. He is saying he is innocent of the charges and said that a confession he made that he gave a key-card for Michaela's room to fellow suspect Sandip Moonea was extracted by police at gunpoint.

Mr Narairan said that his efforts to help Mr McAreavey revive his wife after he found the body explains the presence of his DNA in the hotel room.

Irish Independent

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