Canacona police arrest local for rape and murder of Irish backpacker

Canacona police arrest local for rape and murder of Irish backpacker

Margao/Canacona, March16: Canacona police on Wednesday arrested a local, 23-year-old Vikat Bhagat, a resident of Bhagatwada, Char rasta, Canacona, on charges of murdering Irish national, Danielle McLaughlin, whose body was found at an isolated spot at Deubaug, Canacona, on Tuesday morning.

Police are also interrogating three more persons, to verify their role in the crime.

Bhagat, police sources informed, is a history-sheeter. He, along with three other locals, were seen with the Irish woman at a shack located at Colomb, not very far from where her body was found.

Bhagat, police sources informed, has admitted to having raped the Irish woman after taking her to the isolated spot late Monday night. He then killed her using a broken beer bottle so as to silence her, in the belief that the killer’s identity wouldn’t be revealed.

Her body was found in a nude condition the next day, with injury marks on her head and face. TOI has photographs of McLaughlin but has chosen not to publish them yet.

During the course of our investigations, we learnt that Bhagat was seen moving with a foreigner, and so we zeroed in on him. Meanwhile, the CCTV footage obtained from the shack confirmed our suspicions, and we arrested him,” Dy SP Sammy Tavares, who is supervising the investigations, told TOI.

 The clothes which the deceased was wearing were found packed in a bag near Bhagat’s house, police sources informed. The scooter belonging to the accused has also been attached by the police. The British passport belonging to the deceased has also been attached by the police.

Reports say McLaughlin is originally from Buncrana, Co Donegal. She left Ireland in February to go “backpacking around the world”. She spent her childhood in Buncrana, attending the local Scoil Mhuire secondary school, and later studied at a university in Liverpool.

A bar that she worked at in Liverpool, The Pumphouse in Albert Dock, posted a tribute to her on Facebook. “Very sad to hear we have lost one of our old team members Danielle McLaughlin in Goa this week. She was only 28. Goodbye Danielle. Deepest condolences to her family in Ireland,” reads the post.

“Seven injury marks were observed on different parts of her body, including her head and face, suggesting a scuffle between the deceased and the accused,” Dy SP Sammy Tavares told TOI.

Tavares is supervising the investigations by the Canacona police, told TOI.

Police are awaiting the postmortem report, which will be conducted by a panel of doctors at the Goa Medical College and Hospital, Bambolim, before charging Bhagat with raping the Irish woman.

Police have requested the GMC authorities to preserve her nail clippings and other forensic material for DNA profiling.

SP (North) who is holding charge of SP (South) Karthik Kashyap said the accused has confessed to the crime.

Sources informed that the shack is very popular among foreign as well as domestic tourists.

On Monday, Holi celebrations were organized at the place, and the Mclaughlin was among those who attended the party along with her friends. CCTV footages obtained by the police reveal that Bhagat and three of his friends were also seen alongwith her at the shack, based on which the police arrested Bhagat.

Sources informed that the deceased had visited Goa last year as well and that she may have befriended some locals then. She had known Bhagat as well since her last visit to the state, sources informed. During her current Goa visit, she was staying at Arambol, in North Goa, since February 23.

Police sources informed that she came down to Canacona on March 12 and stayed at a friend’s place in Agonda. On Monday, she proceeded to Palolem at around 1 pm. Thereafter she was seen with the accused at a shack in Overem, Palolem, till around 9.30 pm, as revealed in the CCTV footage obtained by the Canacona police.