NewsCrime Desk

Thug accused of Danielle rape and murder was out on bail for assault

Crime DeskBy Patrick O'Connell
Vikat Bhagat
Vikat Bhagat

THE EVIL thug accused of the rape and murder of Danielle McLaughlin was on bail in connection with a brutal knuckle-duster assault when he allegedly killed the Co. Donegal backpacker, the chief investigator has revealed.

Just six weeks before allegedly killing Danielle (28), Vikat Bhagat was allowed back on the streets of Goa despite being charged with a vicious attack on a shop owner. 

Relying on exclusively obtained police reports and an interview with Goa investigator Deputy Superintendent Sammy Tavares (below), the Sunday World can today detail how:

  • Bhagat was on bail in connection with a ‘knuckle-duster’ attack on a travel agent at the time of the killing;
  • The 24-year-old had been investigated in connection with three previous violent assaults and several burglaries;
  • He initially denied the murder, but broke during interrogation at Canacona police station when confronted with Danielle’s blood-stained clothing;
  • He sobbed that he was “sorry and didn’t mean it” after cops informed him he is to be charged with rape, murder, robbery and destruction of evidence;
  • He claimed to have been in an “on-off” relationship with Danielle, but this has not been confirmed by police; and
  • Tavares had vowed police will seek “the death penalty by hanging”.

Shocking pictures, too graphic to print, show how Danielle’s face was disfigured with a broken beer bottle in a bid to prevent efforts to identify her when her body was discovered lying naked in field early on Tuesday, just kilometres from a bar she had been socialising in the previous evening.

 

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday World, Tavares reveals the details of how cops on the paradise island zeroed in on the violent criminal.

“Bhagat is well known to the police,” Tavares told us yesterday.

“At the time of the killing he was out on bail for an assault on February 4 and there were three other assaults and a number of burglary cases against him.

“When the discovery of Danielle’s body was first reported to us on Tuesday morning, we came across a clue that a foreign lady had been seen with a number of locals the day before.

“We rounded up all the local boys with a criminal history and then zeroed in on Bhagat, after we learned that he had been with her the previous night.

“Bhagat was a tough nut to crack and initially he denied everything. There were many key things that we confronted him with. We recovered his blood-stained clothing and there were injuries on his face and his genitals that appeared to have been caused by scratches from nails.

“Then we recovered the clothes belonging to the victim in a bag not far from the scene.

“During his confession he told us that he took her to the place after 9.30pm, after they were seen together at the Green Park bar a few kilometres away. He said they had been drinking and that he wanted sex but she refused.

“During a scuffle she received injuries when he hit her with a beer bottle and she fell down. He says she was still semi-conscious after he hit her with the bottle and that he then had sex with her.”

Tavares said that after raping and killing Danielle, Bhagat allegedly used a beer bottle to disfigure her face.

“Initially he claimed there were others involved but we have now verified that all these men have alibis.

“He took her to the spot on his moped and they were alone. The death penalty is rarely applied but we will try for maximum punishment after what he did.

Danielle, who was travelling on a British passport having been born in Glasgow but grew up in Buncrana, flew alone to Goa on February 22.

The 28-year-old had initially stayed in Arambol Beach in Goa before renewing a previous acquaintance with Vikat Bhagat from her previous stay.

It is understood that on the day prior to her death, Danielle had met with three Indian men, one of whom is believed to have been Vikat, for dinner in Palolem before moving on alone to the Holi party at Green Park resort, where she met British backpackers including Dave Kenyon Woodruff.

 

Speaking with the Sunday World, Dave told us that he wants her family to know that in the hours before her death “Danielle was truly happy”.

“She was so bubbly and vivacious. She sat with us for about three hours and then at about 8pm these five Indian dudes arrived.

“Danielle was telling me all about her adventures when one Indian guy grabbed her by the arm and said: ‘Remember you’re with us.’

“I didn’t like that but she said: ‘He’s my friend.’ At about 9.00 pm and we decided we were going for a swim and I asked Danielle if she wanted to come. She said she did, but to give her a couple of minutes.

“Twenty minutes later when we got back she was gone and the barman was sweeping up the floor.”

Cops in Goa believe that after the British group went swimming, Vikat took Danielle on his scooter to a field near Devbagh beach where he raped and murdered her. Bhagat is due back in court on Tuesday.