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Thursday 22 March 2018

Indian police say suspect 'has confessed to the murder'

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

Luke Byrne

The main suspect in the murder of Irish backpacker Danielle McLaughlin has allegedly admitted to the crime.

Police in India said they have a confession from Vikat Bhagat (23), who is from Canacona, on the west coast of India, and who it is claimed has a history of crime.

According to local officers, Ms McLaughlin (28), who is originally from Buncrana, Co Donegal, was last seen with Mr Bhagat (23) on Monday at 9.30pm in Canacona. She was found dead at 8.20am on Tuesday, when local man Prashant Komarpant reported finding her naked body in a field near Canacona, around 150 metres from a road leading from Canacona to Agonda, a large village to the north-east.

She suffered a number of injuries to the face including cuts likely made by a blunt object.

Police picked up a number of suspects and during the course of interrogation, the involvement of Mr Bhagat "was confirmed". Mr Bhagat was placed under arrest on Tuesday at 3.10pm and can be held for up to seven days.

According to officers, an Activa scooter belonging to Mr Bhagat was discovered, which contained red stains "apparently of blood".

Mr Bhagat's clothes, which also contained apparent red blood stains, were also seized.

"There were also some nail injuries found on the body of the accused. He was medically examined at GMC (Goa Medical College Hospital) Bambolim," a statement said.

Among the body of evidence police have discovered is video from a location near a restaurant at Ourem, Palolem, Canacona, where the two were seen together.

They have also recorded statements from a number of witnesses and have asked that forensic doctors examine Ms McLaughlin's remains for signs of sexual offences.

Indian media reported Mr Bhagat murdered Ms McLaughlin to hide his identity after raping her. "Accused confessed to the crime," local police said.

However, it has also been reported he denies raping her.

Ms McLaughlin's shoulder bag was also reportedly discovered at a property.

Mr Bhagat appeared in court yesterday in connection with the murder. He has been remanded in custody until March 21 on the murder charge.

Police are reportedly awaiting the results of a full post-mortem before deciding on whether to press sexual offences charges.

Local media reported police said Ms McLaughlin was staying at Arambol in north Goa, and had come down to Palolem beach on Monday.

Police reported that Mr Bhagat was a thief and ex-convict.

"We are investigating people with whom she was playing Holi with during a party here.

"Her friend has also given us some leads and we are questioning some suspects," a police officer associated with the probe told local paper 'The Hindu'.

Irish Independent

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