Danielle McLaughlin 'was GANG RAPED' before being murdered

  • Vikat Bhagat is accused of killing the 28-year-old adventurer in Goa last week
  • Today he appeared on 20 additional charges of stealing valuables from tourists
  • Family lawyer says tragic traveller was raped by a gang of men before she died
  • Lawyer Vikram Varma told MailOnline: 'More than one person was involved'

By Nick Fagge In Goa For Mailonline

Published: 06:30 EDT, 20 March 2017 | Updated: 07:44 EDT, 20 March 2017

Murdered British backpacker Danielle McLaughlin was gang-raped before she was murdered with a broken beer bottle, according to her family's lawyer.

In a dramatic development, Vikram Varma today insisted that prime suspect Vikat Bhagat could not have acted alone.

Mr Varma, who is representing her family, told MailOnline: ‘Danielle was 5’8” tall and she was really strong. This fellow Bhagat, he does not look strong and muscular.

‘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.’

 Court appearance: Vikat Bhagat, 23, is the chief suspect in the murder of Danielle McLaughlin. Today he appeared in court on 20 separate charges of theft against tourists as the lawyer for Danielle's family said they believe she was gang raped before she was killed

Court appearance: Vikat Bhagat, 23, is the chief suspect in the murder of Danielle McLaughlin. Today he appeared in court on 20 separate charges of theft against tourists as the lawyer for Danielle's family said they believe she was gang raped before she was killed

 'Too skinny': Vikat Bhagat is not strong enough to have overcome Danielle McLaughlin on his own, according to her family's lawyer. He believes she was attacked by a gang of men

'Too skinny': Vikat Bhagat is not strong enough to have overcome Danielle McLaughlin on his own, according to her family's lawyer. He believes she was attacked by a gang of men

 Returning home: 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.

Returning home: 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.

 Danielle McLaughlin's family’s lawyer Mr Varma, who also worked on the case of Scarlett Keeling, said: ‘There has to be more than one person involved. I have no doubt.' Pictured: Mr Varma with Fiona MacKeown, the mother of Scarlett, the 15-year-old murdered in Goa in 2008

Danielle McLaughlin's family’s lawyer Mr Varma, who also worked on the case of Scarlett Keeling, said: ‘There has to be more than one person involved. I have no doubt.' Pictured: Mr Varma with Fiona MacKeown, the mother of Scarlett, the 15-year-old murdered in Goa in 2008

 

He spoke as Bhagat, 23, appeared in court on 20 separate charges of theft against tourists. 

Danielle, 28, was strangled and her face was slashed with a broken bottle during the terrifying attack in Palolem, south Goa, last week.

Bhagat has allegedly admitted to police that he killed Danielle McLaughlin following hours of drinking at a festival, last Monday night.

But he denies raping her, claiming the pair were involved in an ‘on-off’ relationship, police have told MailOnline.

The family’s lawyer Mr Varma, who also worked on the case of Scarlett Keeling, the 15-year-old murdered in Goa in 2008, continued: ‘Bhagat’s story is that he was alone with Danielle which is doubtful.

‘There has to be more than one person involved. I have no doubt.

‘He would not have been able to overpower Danielle on his own.

‘I have a feeling that it was more than one person but we have to verify everything with evidence.

‘I believe Danielle’s attackers took her to another place other than the place where the body was found.

 Tourist 'thief': The chief suspect in the murder of Danielle McLaughlin, Vikat Bhagat, was today accused of a string of separate offences against tourists after he was marched into Canacona Police Station

Tourist 'thief': The chief suspect in the murder of Danielle McLaughlin, Vikat Bhagat, was today accused of a string of separate offences against tourists after he was marched into Canacona Police Station

 Justice: As Vikat Bhagat was marched to a police station to face 20 separate charges of stealing from tourists, friends of Danielle warned police not to jump to conclusions and asked for more witnesses to come forward

Justice: As Vikat Bhagat was marched to a police station to face 20 separate charges of stealing from tourists, friends of Danielle warned police not to jump to conclusions and asked for more witnesses to come forward

 Bleak: Danielle, 28, was strangled and her face was slashed with a broken bottle during the terrifying attack in Palolem, south Goa. Pictured: The spot near where Danielle was murdered

Bleak: Danielle, 28, was strangled and her face was slashed with a broken bottle during the terrifying attack in Palolem, south Goa. Pictured: The spot near where Danielle was murdered

‘Bhagat’s clothes had blood on them and Danielle’s clothes were found close to his house.

‘But these small criminal gangs operate in groups of four to six people.

‘They share the spoils of their exploits.

‘They are very loyal to each other.’

The lawyer is now urging Goa Police to keep searching for the other attackers.

‘We are not satisfied with an arrest and a confession. We are looking for a conviction.

‘We want the police to continue their investigation and to keep gathering evidence and not be satisfied with only a confession.

‘The police are planning to lay charges within a month.

‘But we need to verify things.

‘We don’t want the police to rely solely on Bhagat’s confession before taking the case to trial.

 Appeal: Vikat Bhagat’s distraught mother Surekha came to the court house for the hearing and appealed to police to let her see her son when he was returned to custody. Her request was refused

Appeal: Vikat Bhagat’s distraught mother Surekha came to the court house for the hearing and appealed to police to let her see her son when he was returned to custody. Her request was refused

 Defence: Vikat Bhagat has allegedly confessed to the killing but denied rape as the pair were in a consensual 'on-off' relationship. Pictured: Vikat's mother trying to see her son 

Defence: Vikat Bhagat has allegedly confessed to the killing but denied rape as the pair were in a consensual 'on-off' relationship. Pictured: Vikat's mother trying to see her son 

‘The forensic report will take two or three weeks to complete.

‘If the vaginal swabs reveal there is sperm from more than one person then that is clear evidence that Danielle was attacked by more than one man.’

Danielle’s best friend Nicole Farren also urged local people to come forward with all the information they have to bring Danielle’s abusers to justice.

‘We understand there is a lot of pressure on you the local people to protect criminals operating in the area who have a lot of power,’ she said.

‘Sometimes it is time to stand up and take a stand and say ‘No, Enough is Enough’.

Speaking at a memorial service for Danielle on Sunday she added: ‘We understand that there have been cases of tourists who have been murdered in the past which were quickly solved by the police.

‘But after the trial that these criminals have been acquitted.

‘We sincerely hope that this will not happen in the case of our Danielle.’

‘We want justice for Danielle, she deserves justice.’

Mr Varma spoke out as Bhagat appeared in court in Goa on separate charges.

 March for peace:  Danielle's childhood friend Nicole Farren, from Ireland, pictured centre in the striped top, and Sheridan Smith, from Australia, in the orange top and sunglasses, took part in a justice march for Danielle yesterday

March for peace:  Danielle's childhood friend Nicole Farren, from Ireland, pictured centre in the striped top, and Sheridan Smith, from Australia, in the orange top and sunglasses, took part in a justice march for Danielle yesterday

 Witness call: Danielle’s best friend Nicole Farren, pictured above, urged local people to come forward with all the information they have to bring Danielle’s abusers to justice. ‘We understand there is a lot of pressure on you the local people to protect criminals operating in the area who have a lot of power,’ she said

Witness call: Danielle’s best friend Nicole Farren, pictured above, urged local people to come forward with all the information they have to bring Danielle’s abusers to justice. ‘We understand there is a lot of pressure on you the local people to protect criminals operating in the area who have a lot of power,’ she said

 Speaking at a memorial service for Danielle on Sunday, Nicole Farren, pictured above in striped top, added: ‘We understand that there have been cases of tourists who have been murdered in the past which were quickly solved by the police. ‘But after the trial that these criminals have been acquitted. ‘We sincerely hope that this will not happen in the case of our Danielle.’

Speaking at a memorial service for Danielle on Sunday, Nicole Farren, pictured above in striped top, added: ‘We understand that there have been cases of tourists who have been murdered in the past which were quickly solved by the police. ‘But after the trial that these criminals have been acquitted. ‘We sincerely hope that this will not happen in the case of our Danielle.’

The murder suspect is accused of 20 offences in addition to the brutal sexual attack and killing of the 28-year-old adventurer in Palolem, Goa, last week.

The 23-year-old made a brief appearance at the Canacona Court House today to face charges of theft.

He is accused of stealing laptops, mobile phones, cash and jewellery 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 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 court house in a police car.

 World traveller: Danielle McLaughlin, 28, was strangled and her face was slashed with a broken bottle during the terrifying attack in Palolem, south Goa, last week

World traveller: Danielle McLaughlin, 28, was strangled and her face was slashed with a broken bottle during the terrifying attack in Palolem, south Goa, last week

 Conviction: The lawyer for Danielle's family is now urging Goa Police to keep searching for the other attackers. ‘We are not satisfied with an arrest and a confession. We are looking for a conviction'

Conviction: The lawyer for Danielle's family is now urging Goa Police to keep searching for the other attackers. ‘We are not satisfied with an arrest and a confession. We are looking for a conviction'

Bhagat’s distraught mother Surekha came to the court house for the hearing and appealed to police to let her see her son when he was returned to custody. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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By World Staff Writer 03/20/2017 07:44:00