Murdered British backpacker Danielle McLaughlin was gangraped before she was murdered with a broken beer bottle, according to her family's lawyer.
In a dramatic development, lawyer Vikram Varma on Monday insisted that the prime suspect Vikat Bhagat could not have acted alone. Varma, who is representing the victim's family, said, "Danielle was 5'8" tall and she was really strong. This fellow Bhagat, he does not look strong and muscular. I doubt if he had the strength to overpower Danielle on his own. "If she was intoxicated there would have been no need for the terrible injuries she suffered."
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.
ACCUSED CONFESSES KILLING DANIELLE
Bhagat has allegedly admitted to police that he killed Danielle McLaughlin, following hours of drinking at a festival, but he denied raping her, claiming the pair were involved in an "on-off" relationship. The family's lawyer 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.
"We have to verify everything with evidence. I believe Danielle's attackers took her to another place other than the one where the body was found. "Bhagat's clothes had blood on them and Danielle's clothes were found close to his house. 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.
DANIELLE'S FRIEND URGES LOCALS TO HELP
"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. 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 things will be clear," he said. 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 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'. We want justice for Danielle, she deserves justice," she added. The murder suspect is accused of 20 offences in addition to the brutal sexual attack and killing of the 28-year-old adventurer last week. The 23-year-old made a brief appearance at the Canacona Court House on Monday to face charges of theft.