herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Family of murdered Michaela settle €1.6m action with hotel

Michaela McAreavey with her husband John, who has settled a lawsuit against Legends Hotel where she was murdered
Michaela McAreavey with her husband John, who has settled a lawsuit against Legends Hotel where she was murdered
Legends Hotel, Mauritius

The hotel in which Michaela McAreavey was murdered on her honeymoon has reached an out-of-court financial settlement with her husband, John, and family.

They had sued The Legends Hotel on the island of Mauritius for €1.6m after the end of a court trial in 2012 during which two hotel employees were found not guilty of her murder.

Any sums to be paid out have not been publicly disclosed.

The family's lawyer in Mauritius, Dick Sui Wa, said last night Michaela's loved ones were "satisfied" with the terms of the settlement.

"It was an out-of-court settlement but I am unable to confirm any details because of a non-disclosure agreement," he told the Herald.

Satisified

"I can say the family are satisfied with the settlement."

Michaela was found strangled in the couple's hotel room on the island in the Indian Ocean in January 2011.

An Irish language teacher, the 27-year-old victim was the daughter of Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte and was the Ulster Rose in the 2004 Rose of Tralee competition.

Michaela had been married for only 11 days when she was killed.

After she and her husband had eaten lunch at their five-star hotel, she returned to their room to get biscuits.

But when she failed to return, her devastated husband discovered her body in the bathtub of their suite.

The following year, two hotel workers - Sandip Moneea and Avinash Treebhoowoon - were acquitted after an eight-week trial.

Nobody has yet been convicted in relation to the murder.

In documents filed in court by her family, they stated that all monies received in damages, except for some expenses incurred by Mr McAreavey, would be handed over to The Michaela Foundation, a charity set up in her memory which helps children in need.

Court papers lodged by Mr McAreavey, details of which were published in the Sunday World, stated he was suing the hotel for £100,000 (€140,000) for 'moral damages' for the loss of his wife and future family, declaring that the hotel had failed to provide "a secure and safe place" for the couple.

He stated he and his wife had hoped to have four children.

He also sought damages claiming that the hotel had failed to co-operate fully with the police investigation, which the hotel had denied.

The claim included funeral expenses and legal and travel expenses of £74,440 (€104,821).

Mr McAreavey sought £800,000 (€1,126,501) for the loss of Michaela's earnings throughout a future career in which she would have been expected to achieve promotion.

He sought damages of €1,124,440 in total.

Michael's parents Mickey and Marion Harte sought £25,000 (€35,200) each for moral damages and her brothers sought £25,000 each.

Management

A senior member of the hotel management refused to divulge yesterday what was in the final settlement.

A family spokesman, Irish solicitor Tom Kelly, stated yesterday that both sides agreed not to disclose details of the legal deal that was reached.

"The family are making no statement.

"Whilst there has been a settlement, both sides agreed to not make any statements on the detail of it.

"The family will be making no formal statement," Mr Kelly added.

No new arrests have been made by police since the end of the trial.

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