Irish woman Danielle McLaughlin murdered in Goa

Danielle McLaughlin Image copyright McLaughlin family
Image caption Danielle was described as a 'friendly, quiet girl who loved to travel'

Police are treating the death of an Irish woman found near a beach in the southern Indian state of Goa as murder.

Danielle McLaughlin's body was discovered in an isolated spot close to tourist resorts in Canacona on Tuesday.

Ms McLaughlin, who was 28, and grew up in Buncrana, County Donegal, suffered injuries on her face and head.

Police are treating her death as murder. A post-mortem examination has taken place to establish if she was sexually assaulted.

Police said a 24-year-old man has been arrested and remains in custody.

Ms McLaughlin, who had dual Irish and British citizenship and had lived in Liverpool, travelled to India using a British passport.

'Happy-go-lucky person'

Suresh Velip, head constable at Goa Police, said Ms McLaughlin's body was found in a remote area near Deobagh Beach in Canacona on Tuesday morning.

He said a post-mortem examination had been carried out. Details of the findings have not been made public.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ms McLaughlin was travelling through Goa with friends

Fr Francis Bradley from St Mary's Church in Buncrana, who visited the McLaughlin family on Wednesday morning, described the death as an "immense loss".

"Her family are understandably distraught at what has happened," Fr Bradley told BBC Radio Foyle.

"They are a family who have suffered a lot of loss over the last number of years, her mother in particular.

Image caption She lived in Buncrana before attending university in Liverpool

"The loss is immense and the circumstances of that death, the distance between where it happened and where the family are, adds to the difficulty that the family feel at this time."

'Utterly devastated'

Fr Bradley described Ms McLaughlin as a "happy-go-lucky" girl who loved to travel.

"I met the young lady in question a few months ago at the time that her grandfather was gravely ill and she was very close to her grandfather, who subsequently died.

"She seemed a happy go-lucky, friendly, quiet girl.

"To find that there could be malice or something very sinister involved in the way in which someone died is particularly disturbing and has its own challenge that we, as a community, will have to face," he added.

Image caption Her body was found near a beach in Canacona

Ms McLaughlin went to Buncrana's Irish language school, Scoil Mhuire.

The school principal, Rosaleen Grant, said teachers and pupils alike were "just utterly shattered and devastated".

"She was a very confident, sociable, outgoing girl of a very caring nature," said Ms Grant.

"A number of the staff would have known her really well, so it's just the sense of loss and the fact she's so far from home makes it so tragic.

"She loved taking part in school musicals, she did Irish dancing, she was involved in sports and athletics. She was just an all-rounder really."

Liverpool John Moores University said it was "shocked and saddened" to hear of the death of one of its former students.

Michael Safi, the Guardian's South Asia correspondent, said a candlelit vigil has been held in Goa, close to the spot where Ms McLaughlin was found.

"The murder has left people "absolutely shocked," he told the BBC.

"This is not the first crime to occur of this nature in Goa. The place is a big tourist engine for India. For the locals, there was concern this could impact very badly on their little slice of paradise.

"Many locals gathered with tourists at the nearby police station in order to put pressure on police to ensure people are watched and to get this case investigated thoroughly."

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed it was in close contact with the British consulate.

"The Irish Embassy is liaising closely with the British authorities and an Irish consular official is travelling from New Delhi to Goa today," said a spokesperson.

The Foreign Office said they are liaising closely with Indian police.

"We are supporting the family of a British-Irish woman following her death in Goa, India. Our thoughts are with them at this very difficult time," a spokesman said.

Last year, an Indian court cleared two men of raping and killing British teenager Scarlett Keeling.

The 15-year-old was found dead on Goa's popular Anjuna beach in 2008, having drowned after allegedly being plied with drugs.

Miss Keeling's mother said her heart sank after hearing of Ms McLaughlin's death.

"It is horrific," Fiona MacKeown said. "My heart breaks for her family and friends.

"I know what they are going through."