Belfast Telegraph

Colourful farewell to murdered Irish backpacker Danielle McLaughlin

A carnival of colour celebrated the life of murdered Irish backpacker Danielle McLaughlin as she was laid to rest in her hometown of Buncrana.

At the request of her family and friends, mourners dressed in colourful clothes, many with garlands of flowers in their hair, in tribute to the "vibrant" 28-year-old who was killed in Goa on March 14.

A large crowd gathered for the funeral at Saint Mary's Church, Cockhill, in County Donegal, during which Ms McLaughlin was described as a "beautiful daughter, a cherished granddaughter, a thoughtful sister, a loyal friend, a free spirit, a remarkable classmate, a gentle neighbour; the little girl who became the lovely woman".

Pupils from her old school in the town formed a guard of honour outside the church as the funeral procession arrived from her family home, followed by her grieving mother Andrea and four sisters.

Friends travelled from Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and England to attend her funeral

Father Francis Bradley, who conducted the requiem mass, told mourners that the sudden and callous nature of Ms McLaughlin's death had left all who knew her "speechless".

He said he prays that amid the young woman's struggle, "peace and calm came her way too".

Fr Bradley said Ms McLaughlin made "a huge impression on people's lives".

"She was disarmingly kind and forgiving. Her warm nature and open heart drew people into her ever-widening, extensive and international circle of friends.

"A brief glance at the vast array of tender messages for Danielle's mother Andrea, her family and friends, shows the immense esteem in which she was held.

"She had a gentle but powerful way with her - for it seems that just one encounter with her was enough to change someone's life," he added.

"A gifted student in dance and drama, Danielle became a colourful character, like a gem which caught the light and reflected it in all its beauty around her."

He urged mourners not to allow the "malice which cut (her life) short to spoil her memory or impair her beauty".

"There have been so many good things which have happened since Danielle took her leave of this world.

"So very many people, many of them here this morning anonymously, have offered their time, their help, their facilities and their talents to comfort the bereaved, to bring solace to broken hearts.

"It is clear that good always overcomes evil," he added.

Her last Facebook post was read out to mourners.

It said: "Thank you to all my friends and family for making home so special and always looking after me.

"I am grateful and the luckiest person I know... Off on another adventure."

Ms McLaughlin was buried beside her grandparents in the church graveyard.

She had been travelling in Goa when she was found dead in a field close to tourist resorts.

A post-mortem examination concluded that brain damage and constriction of the neck caused her death in Canacona.

The former Liverpool John Moores University student had been staying in a beach hut in Goa with an Australian female friend.

The pair had been celebrating Holi, a Hindu spring festival, in a nearby village.

She left the village late at night and her body was found the next day, unclothed, with injuries to her head and face, police said.

A 24-year-old man, whose name has been reported as Vikat Bhagat, appeared in court two weeks ago charged with murder, and will also face rape charges.

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