Longford Rose Escort shocked by murder of Michaela Harte

A Longford man who escorted Michaela Harte at the Rose of Tralee festival over six years ago has spoken of his disbelief at learning of the young woman's murder earlier this week.

A Longford man who escorted Michaela Harte at the Rose of Tralee festival over six years ago has spoken of his disbelief at learning of the young woman's murder earlier this week.

Barry Mollaghan, a sports physiotherapist in Longford town said he still could not believe the tragic news, two days after the 27-year-old was found murdered in her hotel room in Mauritius.

"I got a call from a friend of mine in Coleraine who told me that she (Michaela) had been found dead. I couldn't believe it," he said.

"It is incomprehensible how such a beautiful girl like Michaela could have been killed. She was a real lady to her fingertips and I am just glad that I had the great privilege of escorting her in the Rose of Tralee."

The organisers of the 2004 Rose of Tralee Contest paired Michaela with the Edgeworthstown native due to their common interests.

"Michaela's brother, Mark was doing physio in the University of Ulster at the time so that was the link," he added.

Michaela, daughter of Tyrone senior football manager Mickey, was on the second leg of her honeymoon with her husband, Down footballer Donal McAreavey whom she married just two weeks previously.

The couple flew out to the Indian Ocean island after spending a number of days in Dubai. Mauritius police believe the young woman was strangled after returning to her hotel room in the four star Legends Hotel complex to fetch some biscuits.

She was found a short time later by her husband when she failed to return. A post-mortem revealed she had been strangled.

Three men, Abinash Treeboowoon, 29, and Sandip Moneea, 41, a floor supervisor appeared in court this morning (Wednesday) charged with the Tyrone native's murder. A third man, Raj Theekoy, 33, is charged with conspiracy to murder. All three were remanded in custody to appear back at a further sitting next Wednesday when they will be either formally charged or released.

For Mr Mollaghan, who runs a physiotherapy business on Longford town's Market Square, the enormity of the past few days has clearly taken its toll. Ulster, the world of Gaelic football and Irish society in general had lost one of its few "shining lights", he said.

"She just had a great spirit about her, a great love of life and of course of Gaelic football. My heart goes out to her family, her father and her husband. It's just so hard to comprehend."