Belfast Telegraph

Hundreds gather at vigil in India to pay tribute to murdered Irish woman Danielle McLaughlin

By Cathal McMahon

Expats, backpackers and locals gathered at the scene of the brutal murder of an Irish woman in India for a solemn ceremony to pay their respects.

The crowd of around 100 people paid tribute to murdered Donegal woman Danielle McLaughlin in the remote field in Devbagh, Canacona.

The ceremony, which involved some local traditions, took place on Wednesday evening and concluded with a chilling rendition of Bob Marley's 'No Woman No Cry'.

The 28-year-old's remains were discovered at the spot on Tuesday morning by a local farmer.

The victim had injuries to her head and body and police are investigating if she was raped.

One man Vikat Bhagat (23) has been arrested in connection with the murder and police say he has confessed to her killing.

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.

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.

Local journalist Abel Barretto said that following the killing he appealed on an expat Facebook page for friends of Ms McLaughlin to come forward and help with the investigation.

As a result of this one person travelled to the scene and identified her remains.

However he said his attempts were met with some criticism: "A few Facebook tigers started commenting on the post itself saying that the poster is inhuman etc.

"Then I had posted that they shouldn't try to be heroes on the Facebook be real life heroes.

"So the same day about 10 foreigners came to the police station and staged a peaceful demonstration.

"As a follow up of this, a vigil was arranged at the crime scene on Wednesday 5.30 pm.

"A lot of speakers expressed grief and some looked terrified.

"The last song they sang was 'No woman, No cry' by Bob Marley."

Discovery

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.

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.

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...

Posted by Danielle Mc Laughlin on Tuesday, February 21, 2017

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 on Thursday. A fundraising page to help with the costs has been set up with over 30,000 euro raised.

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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