Belfast Telegraph

Irish woman found dead in Goa will be sadly missed, says mother

The grieving mother of an Irish woman 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.

Deputy superintendent Sammy Tavares told local reporters that a man named Vikas Bhagat had been arrested.

Tavares said that Bhagat had confessed to raping the victim and killing her.

Andrea Brannigan, the victim's mother, told the Press Association: "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.

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

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

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 on Thursday.

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

Christy Duffy, a close friend, has already raised several thousand euro on a fundraising website to help pay for the funeral and repatriation costs.

"She was beautiful, kind-hearted and funny. She just loved life. We are devastated," he said.

"They say the brightest stars burn the quickest and no other analogy could describe Danielle's life better."

Ms McLaughlin had returned to Buncrana last year when her grandfather died.

Rosalee Grant, principal at Scoil Mhuire, where Ms McLaughlin went to school, described her past pupil as a "lovely, happy go lucky student".

"She was a very caring individual. She took part in school musicals, she loved Irish dancing, she also liked athletics and soccer," she said.

"She was an all rounder. Happy, carefree and caring. She went off to college in Liverpool and then went travelling.

"This is a devastating time for her family and the whole town. It's a big shock for the staff and pupils.

"The staff remember her fondly. She was a student we were very proud of. It is very sad, she was in the prime of her life."

Fr John Walsh, parish priest, said Ms Brannigan had suffered a number of bereavements, losing her husband two years ago.

"The absolute horror of this girl's murder has stunned the community," he said.

"We feel for her mother in particular and her siblings."

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 have 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.

Miss Keeling's mother said she her heart sank after hearing of the killing in Goa, saying "it just brings it all back".

Fiona MacKeown said: "It is horrific. My heart breaks for her family and friends. I know what they are going through.

"It really makes my heart sink. I just feel so sad for her mum, siblings and friends."

Ms MacKeown found that dealing with the Goan police and authorities while grieving over her daughter was "frustrating" and like "banging your head against a brick wall".

She hoped Ms McLaughlin's family would not have to face a similar trauma and added "it is a possibility, but it is early days yet in the investigation and I hope it works out well" for them.

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