The man who allegedly killed Buncrana woman Danielle McLaughlin in India has applied for bail citing Covid-19 delays in the case.
Danielle was found dead in a secluded spot in Canacona, an area of Goa popular with holidaymakers, in March 2017.
The 28-year-old’s alleged killer, Vikat Bhagat, has now applied to be released on bail, citing a “bleak” likelihood of a trial taking place in the near future due to the “prevailing pandemic condition”.
Her family have been left devastated by the news and fear he may escape justice altogether.
Ms McLaughlin’s mother, Andrea Brannigan, said she is “terrified” the 28-year-old suspect will be free when he applies for bail on Monday.
The victim had travelled to Goa with an Australian female friend and the pair were staying in a beach hut.
They had been celebrating Holi – a Hindu spring festival – at a nearby village.
Ms Brannigan told the Evening Standard “I was devastated to learn that the defendant has applied for bail and it’s just brought all the horrific memories of what happened to my daughter back to the surface.
“I am terrified that the court is going to set him free on bail.
“I am really frightened that if the suspect is released and then flees from justice that our nightmare will go on and on
“It’s been four years since I lost my beautiful daughter and it’s as painful today as it ever has been.
“To have to wait this long for justice has just been truly awful for us and we cannot get closure until justice is done.
“I am really frightened that if the suspect is released and then flees from justice that our nightmare will go on and on.”
A post-mortem examination showed Danielle suffered cerebral damage and constriction of the neck, causing her death.
A spokesman for Danielle’s family, said: “This is an appalling development in this family’s longstanding search for justice for Danielle.
“Everyone is innocent until proven otherwise, we are rightly concerned that the person accused of Danielle’s murder, who has rightly been kept in custody since his arrest, is all of a sudden going to be released on bail, and that he will flee from justice.
“The family are very much in the dark about what is going on and like other families who are victims of crime abroad, struggle to understand the nature of legal proceedings in other countries.
“We will do our best to follow events closely and hope that the court does the right thing on Monday and deny the defendant’s application for bail, and that the path towards justice is not affected in any way.”