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Man on murder and rape charges over Danielle McLaughlin death in Goa

By Brian Hutton

The man suspected of killing a Co Donegal woman at a tourist resort in Goa will face murder and rape charges, police in the Indian state have said.

Umesh Gaonkar, a superintendent with Goa Police, said a post-mortem examination showed that Danielle McLaughlin suffered cerebral damage and constriction of the neck, causing her death.

The 28-year-old victim from Buncrana was found dead in a secluded spot in Canacona, a popular area for holidaymakers, on Tuesday morning.

Local media reported that the former Liverpool John Moores University student was discovered unclothed and had marks on her head and face.

Mr Gaonkar said a suspect, a local criminal arrested a day after a farmer discovered Ms McLaughlin's body, would face rape and murder charges.

She had travelled to Goa with an Australian female friend and the pair were staying in a beach hut.

They had been celebrating Holi - a Hindu spring festival - on Monday night at a nearby village.

She left the village late at night and her body was found the next day, Mr Gaonkar said.

CCTV footage has emerged of Ms McLaughlin's final movements in which she is seen apparently walking along a street with the suspect behind her.

Deputy superintendent Sammy Tavares told local reporters that a man named Vikas Bhagat (24) had been arrested.

Bhagat had confessed to raping the victim and killing her, he said.

A two-wheeled vehicle and some clothes, reported to have bloodstains on them, have also been seized as part of the investigation.

Christy Duffy, a close friend of Ms McLaughlin's from Buncrana, said her body has been released from the post-mortem and would likely begin a journey home to Ireland on Friday. It is expected her remains will travel to Mumbai, Dubai and then Dublin.

The journey is expect to take up to six days, prolonging an agonising wait for her heartbroken mother Andrea Brannigan. Ms McLaughlin was the eldest of her five daughters.

Mr Duffy has raised more than £26,000 to help with the costs of bringing the body home and to "give her the send-off she deserves".

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