News Irish News

Saturday 19 August 2017

Suspect (23) to be charged with rape and murder after tragic death of Irish backpacker Danielle

  • Shocking CCTV footage shows murder victim's last movements
  • Man due to be charged with rape and murder
  • Community in Buncrana in shock
  • Vigil held for Danielle in Goa, India

Locals and expats gather for a vigil after her death
Locals and expats gather for a vigil after her death
Danielle McLaughlin. Photo: PA
Danielle McLaughlin, far left
A Hindu temple in Goa, India, where Danielle McLaughlin was on a backpacking adventure.
Locals and expats gather for vigil after death of Danielle McLaughlin
Locals and expats gather for vigil after death of Danielle McLaughlin
Locals and expats gather for vigil after death of Danielle McLaughlin
Locals and expats gather for vigil after death of Danielle McLaughlin
Backpacker Danielle McLaughlin who was murdered in Goa
Danielle McLaughlin was found dead in Canacona, a popular tourist area in the south of Goa
Locals and expats gather for vigil after death of Danielle McLaughlin
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

The last movements of Irish backpacker Danielle McLaughlin, who was murdered on a dream trip to India, were captured by CCTV.

Local police have released footage of Ms McLaughlin (28), from Buncrana, Co Donegal, being followed by the man who has allegedly admitted to her murder.

It came as there were a number of developments in the case yesterday.

Suspect Vikat Bhagat (23) will now be charged with rape, after the results of a post-mortem examination showed the young woman had been sexually assaulted.

Tragic murder victim Danielle McLaughlin. Photo: PA
Tragic murder victim Danielle McLaughlin. Photo: PA

Mr Bhagat has already been held on remand on a murder charge, having appeared in court on Wednesday.

Local reports said Mr Bhagat told police there were other people present when he killed Ms McLaughlin and officers are now searching for more suspects.

Mr Bhagat was taken into Canacona police station with a bag over his head.

It has been reported that he was a friend of Ms McLaughlin and had met her on a previous trip to India. Ms McLaughlin's remains were discovered at an isolated spot near Canacona, on India's west coast, at around 7.30am on Tuesday by a local farmer.

Danielle McLaughlin, far left
Danielle McLaughlin, far left

The victim had injuries to her head and body.

CCTV footage of what police believe were her last moments shows Ms McLaughlin walking along a street, apparently with Mr Bhagat walking behind her.

Local paper 'The Herald Goa' reported that a post-mortem examination was carried out on Ms McLaughlin's body by a two-member panel of forensic doctors. A report has been submitted to Canacona police.

It is understood the examination showed evidence of sexual assault and "compression of neck". Strangulation has been given as a cause of death.

Backpacker Danielle McLaughlin who was murdered in Goa
Backpacker Danielle McLaughlin who was murdered in Goa

The victim's remains are expected to be handed over to the consulate and her family today.

Solemn

Expats, backpackers and locals gathered at the scene where Ms McLaughlin's body was found yesterday for a solemn ceremony.

The crowd of around 100 people paid tribute to the young Irish woman in the remote field where she was discovered.

Murder suspect Vikat Bhagat will also be charged with rape
Murder suspect Vikat Bhagat will also be charged with rape

The ceremony, which involved some local traditions, concluded with a chilling rendition of Bob Marley's 'No Woman No Cry'. Signs were left at the site with messages including "peace" and "understanding".

The former Liverpool John Moores University student was discovered unclothed and she had marks on her head and face.

It is believed that she bravely tried to fight off her attacker, as a police report said there were nail injuries on the body of the suspect.

Andrea Brannigan, Ms McLaughlin's mother, has thanked everyone who has rallied around the family in the wake of the murder.

"As you can expect we are finding it very difficult at this trying time.

"We want to thank the Irish and British consulates, along with Colin from the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, and many friends who have assisted at this time.

"Danielle will be sadly missed by us all," she said.

Ms McLaughlin was the eldest of her five daughters.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin said Ms McLaughlin was travelling to India under a British passport.

"It has been confirmed that the woman travelled to India using a British passport, so the local British consulate has the lead responsibility in terms of dealings with the Indian authorities," a spokesman said.

"The Irish Embassy is liaising closely with the British authorities and an Irish consular official is travelling from New Delhi to Goa."

A family friend is expected to accompany the body home to Ireland.

Christy Duffy, a close friend, has already raised several thousand euro on a fundraising website to help pay for the funeral and repatriation costs. "She was beautiful, kind-hearted and funny. She just loved life. We are devastated," he said.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News