British tourist, 28, is found naked in pool of blood near Goa beach after being 'raped and murdered' while celebrating Holi festival
A British tourist has been found dead near a beach in the Indian holiday resort of Goa amid fears she was raped and murdered. The 28-year-old, named by police as Danielle McLaughlin, was found naked in a pool of blood yesterday morning after attending Holi celebrations in the Canacona area of southern Goa.
Ms. McLaughlin, who is thought to have lived in Liverpool, had just arrived from the north of the state and had been seen out and about at a party on Monday night at nearby Palolem beach, popular with Western tourists. Her badly beaten body was discovered by a farmer at Deobag Beach about four miles away on Tuesday morning. She had suffered extensive injuries to her face. Police said this morning that they had arrested a suspect named as Vikas Bhagat and that he had made a confession.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Sammy Tavares told reporters: 'We have arrested Bhagat. He has confessed to raping the victim and later killing her in order to hide his identity.' Tavares had earlier revealed that the body was found 'lying in a pool of blood without clothes and there were injuries to the head and face'. In a post on Facebook in late February, Ms McLaughlin revealed how she was 'off on another adventure' to Goa. She said: '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.' Under the same post today, which included a sunset landscape picture, a friend wrote: 'Beautiful sunset for a beautiful soul'.
Detectives said they had questioned up to 15 people over the killing of Ms McLaughlin, who was travelling under a British passport.
Police Inspector Filomeno Costa told reporters: 'A local named Prashant Komarpant alerted us after he noticed the body while he was on his way to the fields around 7am on Tuesday morning. 'The body had bruises and her face was badly smashed. Looking at the injuries we concluded that that it was a case of murder. 'We sent her body to Goa Medical College for autopsy and awaiting report to ascertain if she was sexually assaulted.
'We are also speaking with the hotels where she had stayed to find out if she was with her friends or holidaying alone.' Police are also studying the CCTV footage of all the shacks the victim visited on Monday night, and are working with teams of sniffer dogs and forensic teams.
While the police found the deceased's clothes, they are yet to locate the murder weapon. The body has been sent to the Goa Medical College near Panaji for a post mortem. It is thought Ms McLaughlin, who had a tattoo saying 'Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery', lived in Liverpool, but may have been born in Ireland. Her Facebook profile says she had studied at Liverpool John Moores University and was from Buncrana in Ireland. In early February she posted a thank you to her friends for wishing her a happy birthday.
'Thanks for all the birthday love. It was filled with dancing, dinners and family time. Very grateful for all the beautiful pals I have accumulated in life,' she wrote. Friends have posted touching tributes on Facebook for the victim, with one writing: 'Wherever ya are now Dani know that a lot of people are heartbroken today and the world is that wee bit sadder today having lost someone who added so much happiness to it.'
The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin earlier confirmed it was talking to its embassy in India about the reports. The Irish embassy said: 'Ireland's Embassy in New Delhi is in contact with Indian authorities in relation to reports of an incident involving an Irish citizen. 'The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade stands ready to provide consular assistance.' But the Department later said it was 'following up on the suspected murder of an Irish woman in Goa' who had been 'using 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,' the spokesman added. 'The Irish Embassy is liaising closely with the British authorities and an Irish consular official is travelling from New Delhi to Goa today.' 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.