Irish Daily Star
Embassy joins bid to speed up trial
THE Irish Embassy has confirmed it is in talks to visit Goa to lobby Indian officials to fast track the trial of a man accused of raping and murdering a Donegal woman in 2017.
Danielle McLaughlin (28), from Buncrana, was found dead in a secluded spot in
Canacona on March 14, 2017.
She had travelled to India to train as a yoga teacher.
The night before she was found dead, Danielle had attended a Holi party near Canacona beach, a popular tourist spot in the south of Goa.
Local man Vikat Bhagat (23) has has pleaded not guilty to charges of rape, murder, violent robbery and destruction of evidence.
His trial got underway in April
2018, but has stopped and started several times. Only seven witnesses have been heard and the judge has been changed twice, once because of a promotion. The pandemic also caused the trial to be delayed.
Bhagat has taken a case against wearing handcuffs to court which has now taken precedence over the murder trial. His next hearing against wearing handcuffs took place yesterday.
“We now need this trial to resume properly and reach a conclusion,” Danielle’s mum Andrea Brannigan told The Star.
“My family needs this case to be resolved so that me and the rest of my girls can grieve properly and try to come to terms with our loss. It shouldn’t be about him and handcuffs — it should be about Danielle and getting justice for her.”
This week the Irish Embassy confirmed to Andrea that the Irish Consulate is talking with UK officials locally about a joint visit to Goa to lobby around the murder trial in a bid to expedite it.
Danielle was travelling on a British passport, but was a dual British-Irish citizen and was raised in Buncrana, Co Donegal.