Saturday 25 November 2017

Charge sheet filed against suspect in Danielle McLaughlin murder case

Suspect Vikat Bhagat and Danielle McLaughlin
Suspect Vikat Bhagat and Danielle McLaughlin Newsdesk Newsdesk

Police in India have filed a charge sheet against the suspect in the murder of Irish backpacker Danielle McLaughlin.

Vikat Bhagat (24) has been charged with the rape and murder of Ms McLaughlin, from Co Donegal, in the Indian resort of Canacona on March 14.

The Times of India is now reporting that police have filed a 374-page charge sheet with the local court on Friday.

A charge sheet is a formal document of accusation prepared by law-enforcement agencies in India, similar to a book of evidence.

Canacona PI Rajendra Prabhudessai told the newspaper that the document includes 58 exhibits as well as statements recorded from 68 witnesses in the case.

Bhagat was arrested around 24 hours after Ms McLaughlin's remains were discovered in the resort near Goa.

According to the chargesheet, Bhagat took advantage of his friendship with Ms McLaughlin and took her to an isolated field at Adpe-Devabag and after sexually assaulting her, hit her on the face with glass bottles before murdering her by strangling.

Bhagat, has been charged under Sections 302 (murder), 376 (rape), 394 (robbery) and 201 (destruction of evidence) of the India Penal Code (IPC).

Last month Bhagat claimed, in a 29-page letter to his sister, that his three friends murdered Ms McLaughlin.

He claimed that he was in a relationship with the the Donegal woman (28) but on the night of the attack his friends attacked her.

Bhagat reportedly wrote: "I saw two bikes coming towards us switching off the headlights. They came to me, when I questioned why they were here, (friend) asked me to tell Danielle to have sex with them.”

He claims Ms McLaughlin slapped one of the men who then stripped her and raped her.

Bhagat, who said that he was also attacked by the men, claimed: "I tried to save her, but since I had undergone shoulder surgery, I could not help her."

He said the men beat her to death with bottles and rocks.

However police told local reporters they have interrogated the three men and their role in the death "cannot be established".

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