Sunday 25 February 2018

Danielle knew the murder suspect, say Indian police

Vikat Bhagat is led into court by police in Goa
Vikat Bhagat is led into court by police in Goa

Murdered Irish backpacker Danielle McLaughlin knew her suspected killer and the pair had exchanged messages on Facebook, Indian police have claimed.

Danielle's body was discovered near the holiday hotspot of Canacona, Goa on Tuesday. One man - Vikat Bhagat (23) - was swiftly arrested and police say he confessed to the attack.

The policeman leading the investigation has told the Sunday Independent that "good staff, intelligence and CCTV" helped crack the crime in less than 24 hours.

Inspector Filomeno Costa also said Ms McLaughlin, of Buncrana, Co Donegal, had been in contact with her suspected killer.

"They knew each other before and they were friends. They were in contact with each other on Facebook.

"We don't have information as to when they first got in contact, we don't know how long they were friends."

Inspector Costa claimed that they are currently preparing a charge sheet in relation to Mr Bhagat and he said the suspect will be formally charged "in the next few days".

Vikat Bhagat had named a number of his friends as accomplices in the murder. However Inspector Costa said he is the only suspect.

"There was only one person involved in this attack. We have looked at the medical evidence. We believe that he brought her to this location where her body was found and murdered her here."

Bhagat has a long history of criminality with up to 16 previous charges or convictions for burglary and "banditry".

Ms McLaughlin's remains have now been released to two friends who have travelled to Goa. She will now be transported by air back to Donegal.

Sunday Independent

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