Wednesday 20 June 2018

Murder case of Irish backpacker in Goa 'fast-tracked' by Indian authorities after latest post-mortem results

Danielle McLaughlin was from Buncrana but had lived in Liverpool before travelling overseas (Family handout/PA)
Danielle McLaughlin was from Buncrana but had lived in Liverpool before travelling overseas (Family handout/PA)
Danielle McLaughlin was murdered while travelling in Goa
Danielle McLaughlin meets local children on her travels

Sasha Brady

The family of murdered Donegal backpacker, Danielle McLaughlin, have confirmed that the murder case is now being 'fast-tracked' by Indian authorities after the second post-mortem results.

Ms McLaughlin (28), from Buncrana in Co Donegal, left on a backpacking adventure last February.

She was found dead on March 14, 2017 in the Indian resort of Canacona, near Goa, where she had been celebrating the Holi festival.

She had severe injuries to her head and face.

Danielle McLaughlin was murdered while travelling in Goa
Danielle McLaughlin was murdered while travelling in Goa

Her family have confirmed that her case is now being 'fast-tracked' by Indian authorities after the results of the second post-mortem which was carried out in Ireland by Chief State Pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy.

Dr Cassidy's report, "among other things", confirms the cause of death in line with the first Indian post-mortem report.

A man named Vikas Bhagat, (24) was arrested 24 hours after Ms McLaughlin's remains were discovered.

He allegedly confessed to raping the victim and disfiguring her face with a broken beer bottle so she would not be recognised.

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, was charged under Sections 302 (murder), 376 (rape), 394 (robbery) and 201 (destruction of evidence) of the India Penal Code (IPC) in June.

Danielle McLaughlin meets local children on her travels
Danielle McLaughlin meets local children on her travels

Later 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.

Vikat Bhagat
Vikat Bhagat

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

A representative for the McLaughlin family said in a statement that: "Danielle's family have dealt with a lot of documents and information in relation to Danielle's case over the last number of weeks and months.

"They are still trying to cope with and come to terms with the tragedy that has occurred".

He added that they "remain hopeful that the truth in relation to Danielle's untimely death will be made known and that justice in her memory will be done".

The date for the next hearing is on January 12, 2018.

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