Friday 15 December 2017

Nail injuries suggest Danielle fought bravely against her killer in her final moments

Nail injuries on body of main suspect suggest that backpacker tried to fight off her attacker

Tragic murder victim Danielle McLaughlin. Photo: PA
Tragic murder victim Danielle McLaughlin. Photo: PA
Danielle McLaughlin
Backpacker Danielle McLaughlin who was murdered in Goa
A Hindu temple in Goa, India, where Danielle McLaughlin was on a backpacking adventure.
Danielle McLaughlin who was discovered dead in Canacona, a popular tourist area in the south of Goa (Image provided to PA by family)
Danielle McLaughlin was a lover of travelling and has been described as an "outgoing, kind-hearted" person by friends

Deborah McAleese and Luke Byrne

The grieving mother of a young Irish backpacker murdered in a tourist resort in Goa has spoken of her heartbreak.

Danielle McLaughlin (28) was found dead in a secluded spot in Canacona, a popular area for holidaymakers in the south of the Indian state.

Local media reported 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.

A man has been arrested and a post-mortem examination will determine if sexual assault charges are to be brought.

Andrea Brannigan, the victim's mother, said: "The family would like to express our thanks to all who have got in touch since receiving this awful news.

"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."

Danielle was the eldest of her five daughters.

Police at the scene in Canacona where Danielle’s body was found. Photo: RTÉ
Police at the scene in Canacona where Danielle’s body was found. Photo: RTÉ

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.

Suresh Velip, head constable at Goa Police, said a man remained in custody after being arrested on suspicion of murder.

Mr Velip said Ms McLaughlin's body was found in a remote area near Canacona on Tuesday morning.

Palolem beach in Goa
Palolem beach in Goa

The head constable said a post-mortem examination had been carried out, but he declined to disclose any details of the findings.

The suspect is expected to appear in court in Canacona at some stage.

Ms McLaughlin grew up in Buncrana, Co Donegal, and moved to the UK where she studied and worked in Liverpool before travelling for a time in Australia.

She had returned to her home town before setting off to India on a backpacking adventure last month.

On her own Facebook page, dated February 22, Ms McLaughlin posted: "Thank you to all my friends and family for making home so special and always looking after me. I am very grateful and the luckiest person I know...Off on another adventure..."

Dozens of people posted tributes on the social media website.

One said: "Sleep peacefully Danielle, my thoughts are with your family and loved ones. The horrors you have suffered are over x x x".

Another wrote: "Love you Danielle, you had the most beautiful soul."

It is understood her body will be released for repatriation today.

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

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."

In 2008, British teenager Scarlett Keeling was found dead on Goa's popular Anjuna beach.

The 15-year-old drowned after allegedly being plied with drugs.

Two men, Samson D'Souza and Placido Carvalho, were cleared of raping and killing her by an Indian court last year.

Irish Independent

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