Tuesday 21 January 2020

Trial of man accused of murder of Danielle McLaughlin gets underway

Danielle McLaughlin
Danielle McLaughlin

Conor McCrave

The trial of a man charged with the murder of the Donegal woman killed in the western Indian state of Goa in March 2017 began yesterday.

Danielle McLaughlin’s body was found with severe injuries to her head and face last year while holidaying along the Indian coast.

A local 24-year-old man, Vikat Bhagat, stands trial under charges of murder and rape.

The man who owned the land close to the tourist resort of Canacona, where the young woman’s body was found, described the scene on Friday, according to BBC news.

Prashant Komarpant said, "I was going to my field when I saw her body. It was naked…"

He added, "Her face was smashed and covered in blood."

The trial was fast tracked last year by Indian Authorities.

Speaking to Independent.ie on the anniversary of Miss McLaughlin’s death, Danielle’s mum, Andrea said she had considered the accused as a friend.

"She classified him as a friend, she called him brother."

She said, "Everyday just seems like the one day. It only seems like yesterday that I last spoke to Danielle but it also seems like months ago.

"I spoke to her that day. I spoke to he everyday on the phone, if I didn’t speak to her on the phone she messaged me. Because I worry, she’d send me a quick message to say ‘I’m OK’.

The community in Danielle’s hometown have been fundraising since her death to help her family cover legal costs.

"I know if it was one of her sisters or her friends that this had happened to Danielle would be shouting from the rooftops and fighting for justice."

The case will resume on April 13.

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