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GAA has helped me cope with Michaela's killing, reveals John

THE heartbroken widower of tragic bride Michaela McAreavey has spoken of his struggle to cope with her loss.

As the first anniversary of her death approaches, John McAreavey has written movingly about the overwhelming amount of support he has received in the past year and about the "long and hard road that lies ahead".

Mr McAreavey, a member of the Co Down senior panel and a well-known player with his local team Tullylish, made his comments in the Down GAA 2011 Yearbook.

Michaela (27), the only daughter of Tyrone GAA boss Mickey Harte, was killed in a hotel room in Mauritius where the couple were on honeymoon. The pair wed after Christmas last year and Michaela was found dead on January 20.



Peaceful

"The response to the tragic death of my wife was both incredible and overwhelming," he wrote. "I really felt that genuine support across the whole of Ireland."

Mr McAreavey recalled how he threw himself into GAA after the death of his beloved wife.

"I have come to notice how remarkably peaceful it is to kick a ball around the field with my friends.

"Be that with Down or with Tullylish, it's the one time when life appears to stand still, where worries are left behind for a short space of time and I can focus on the game I love.

"My own club, Tullylish, has been great in treating me exactly the same way as before the tragedy, insisting not to spare me from the 'slagging banter' at training and at matches."

He also spoke of the great support that has been shown to the Michaela Foundation, which was set up in her memory.

He added: "I undoubtedly have a very long and hard road in front of me, one that will require me to draw on every resource I have, to somehow learn to live with the events of January 2011." Meanwhile, the church where the couple wed last year, will hold a memorial for the first anniversary of her death on January 13, 2012.

John and Tyrone teacher Michaela (27) were married at St Malachy's Church in Ballymacilroy, Co Tyrone, on December 30.

John will have to travel to Mauritius in 2012 to give evidence at the trial of two hotel staff members who have been charged with murder.

Room attendant Avinash Treebohowon (30) and floor supervisor Sandip Moneea (42) both worked at the Legends Hotel where Michaela was killed.

Police believe that the two men were part of a crime ring which targeted Michaela and John's honeymoon suite in the 5 star hotel.

They think that Michaela caught them stealing from her room and that they panicked and attacked her.

The Director of Public Prosecutions in Mauritius announced this month that the two men were to be tried at the highest court in the country, the Assizes, which is part of the Supreme Court.

The trial is expected to take place in spring 2012 after a magistrate on the island ruled that there is enough evidence for a trial.

Suspect-turned-"star witness" Raj Theekoy (34) claims to have seen the two men near the room at the time of the incident, and heard Michaela scream out three times.



Tortured

Theekoy was initially suspected of having kept a lookout outside of room 1025 for Michaela's alleged killers.

The prosecution also relies on Treebohowon's contested confession. According to the MCIT (Major Crime Investigation Team) which investigated this murder, Treebohowon signed a testimony stating that he held Michaela's legs while Moneea strangled her.

However, Treebohowon's lawyer has insisted that the statement was not valid as it was obtained under duress, as his client was tortured, and that the confession was first heard in the absence of his lawyers.

Last January, police claimed that they had near-irrefutable evidence against the two suspects, including CCTV footage and DNA samples.

hnews@herald.ie


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