A dual nationality holder, Irish national, Danielle McLaughlin was on her holiday trip to Goa on a British passport when she was raped and murdered at Devbag in Canacona on March 14th, 2017. The Canacona police had arrested the accused Vikat Bhagat within few hours of the crime came to light. Later in the police interrogations, the accused had agreed of raping the victim and later killing her to make her silent. But now there seems to be a new angle getting connected to this case with the allegations made by the family lawyer of the victim Advocate Vikram Verma. According to him, the victim Danielle McLaughlin was gang raped before being killed by strangulating and slitting with broken beer bottle.
This perhaps is a very strong allegation and it amounts to raise the doubts on the police investigations in Goa. The following allegations have been made by the family lawyer of Danielle McLaughlin, Advocate Vikram Verma. According to Advocate Verma, it is not possible for the accused Vikat to overpower the 5.8” tall and strong McLaughlin alone and hence there is a clear indication that the victim was gang-raped before she was brutally murdered. “Danielle was 5’8” tall and she was really strong. This fellow Bhagat, he does not look strong and muscular”, lawyer Vikram Varma told the Mail Online adding that “I doubt he had the strength to overcome Danielle on his own. If she was intoxicated there would have been no need for the terrible injuries she suffered. There has to be more than one person involved. I have no doubt,” he asserted.
It may be recalled that on Tuesday, March 14th, 2017 the body of 25-year-old Irish Woman Danielle McLaughlin was found brutally murdered and lying naked in the field around 150 meters from the main road, at Devbag in Canacona. Police suspected the possibility of rape of the deceased prior to her murder and arrested the culprit Vikat Bhagat within few hours. Later in the police interrogation, the accused confessed to the crime. In his confession statement, the accused said that he had raped the victim and later killed her to make her silence. The police registered the case as murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and arrested Bhagat, who will be produced in court on Wednesday for remand.
Later on, the accused changed his statement and told the police that he was not alone. According to the statement made by the Superintendent of Police Uttam Raut Dessai, although Vikat has confessed to the crime but later he tried to involve the others into it. “We do not believe that there is an involvement of any more people in this crime,” said SP Raut Desai adding that, “We are investigating the matter from all the angles and will make sure that nothing will escape.” According to Mr. Raut Desai, “The accused removed the clothes of the victim so nobody can recognize her and in order to hide her identity accused tried to disfigure her face with the help of broken beer bottle,” he said. (source)
The accused had also confessed that he had befriended the victim last year when she was on her trip to Goa and that they were in contact with each other on the social media. The accused has confessed in front of the police that, on her trip to Goa last year, Ms. Danielle McLaughlin had become his friend. But she used to call him brother. They would hang out but had never gone out of the area (Canacona) together. It was more like a local knowing a foreigner. This new development may lead to change the direction of the investigation said the sources. (source)
Meanwhile, the family lawyer of the victim Danielle McLaughlin, Advocate Vikram Verma had also appeared in the case of Scarlett Keeling, 15-year-old Devon teenager who was murdered in Goa in 2008. The case of Scarlett was initially registered by the Goa Police as an accidental death but later it was changed to rape and murder following the intervention of Advocate Vikram Verma who took the case of Scarlett. According to the reports published in The Telegraph , the then PI of Anjuna Mr. Nerlon Albuquerque told a press conference that her death was a case of accidental death due to drowning.
Two days later, Scarlett’s grieving mother, Fiona MacKeown, began approaching the locals for information and was bluntly told by one that it was widely assumed Scarlett had been raped and murdered. On her way to the police station, she found her daughter’s bikini bottoms, torn sandals and shorts lying unnoticed on the beach, amplifying her doubts about the police investigation. Later, She and her lawyer Vikram Varma then secured permission to examine her daughter’s body and afterward told reporters they had counted 52 separate injuries, in contrast to the five wounds police, had reported. By now suspecting foul play, they met the state’s chief minister on Feb 26, to request the case be investigated as a crime. Although the request was initially declined, just two days later, amid growing international media attention, a police first information report (FIR) was finally filed. On March 4, two Indian national ministers called for the case to be reopened from scratch, condemning the initial police report as “shocking and embarrassing”. “If the police are trying to cover up, those involved should be brought to book,” said Renuka Chaudhary, the women’s minister.
In the present case of Danielle McLaughlin is represented by the Advocate Vikram Verma, who’s said to be the family lawyer of the victim smells the rat in this case and he is sure that the culprits will be brought to the books very soon. Meanwhile, according to the British media The Mailonline , the accused Bhagat was presented before the court to face the cases of robberies done by him which includes stealing laptops, mobile phones, cash and jewelry from four tourists, including one-holiday maker from the Netherlands, in 2015. Bhagat faces a further 19 cases of robbery and theft in the beach resorts of south Goa. None of these cases involve violence. His face was covered with a white scarf and wearing blue polka-dot shorts, a black t-shirt and flip-flops the suspect was moved the short distance from Canacona Police station to the courthouse in a police car.
According to the sources, the accused Bhagat’s distraught mother Surekha came to the courthouse for the hearing and appealed to the police to let her see her son when he was returned to custody but her request was refused. Mr. Varma has praised the bravery of Nicole Farren, Miss McLaughlin’s best friend, who has come to Goa to repatriate Danielle’s body. He said: ‘Danielle’s friend Nicole wants to know the details of the case from the legal perspective.’ Danielle’s body is expected to be repatriated today. A British coroner will arrange for her body to be returned to her family in Donegal, Ireland.
SOURCE: VARIOUS SOURCES | IMAGE SOURCE