'It won't sink in until I hold her hand', says tragic Danielle's mum
The family of murdered backpacker Danielle McLaughlin want a second post-mortem to be carried out on her body amid claims they are not happy with the way her situation was handled by authorities in India.
The body of the 28-year-old was flown into Dublin Airport yesterday morning, but she may not be reunited with her family until next Tuesday, two weeks after she was murdered.
The Donegal woman's heartbroken mother also revealed that Danielle had decided not to stay in India, but was merely planning to learn how to teach yoga. She was then due to fly to Canada to begin a new chapter in her life in September.
Ms McLaughlin was found dead in a secluded spot in Canacona, a popular area for holidaymakers in Goa, on the west coast of India, on Tuesday, March 14.
A post-mortem showed she had suffered cerebral damage and constriction to the neck.
Danielle's family are now waiting to see if they can have a second post-mortem carried out on the body of the young woman.
However, it may now be Monday before that takes place, as the coroner's office does not carry out the procedure at weekends.
A family source said they were not happy with the way Danielle's situation had been handled in India.
It has also been revealed that further medical procedures are to be undertaken on Danielle in Belfast before she is returned to her home on the Inishowen peninsula.
Realistically, it may now be Tuesday when her body is returned to her mother Andrea and her four younger sisters.
Local Sinn Fein Senator Padraig Mac Lochlainn said it was a very difficult time for the family but they are just relieved that Danielle's remains are home.
"We are grateful that Danielle is back on Irish soil and now it is a matter of getting her home to her family as quickly as we can," he said.
Danielle's mother Andrea said she will not fully accept that her daughter is dead until she holds her hand.
Speaking from her home in Buncrana, Co Donegal, Andrea said she just knew that her eldest daughter had died when her friend Louise McMenamin arrived at her home in Marian Park.
"I knew as soon as I saw her. As soon as she walked in the door I told her. She did not even get the chance to tell me," she said.
"It feels as if it was a year ago and if it was yesterday. It will only get to sink in when I get to hold her hand."
The heartbroken mum said her daughter had already been granted a visa for Canada and said she had wished she had gone there instead of India.
"She was hemming and hawing between the two for a while," Andrea said.
"I was not happy about her going to India this time. I would have preferred her to go to Canada, but she said 'I don't want to be anywhere else in the world other than India and that's where I want to be'."
Although Andrea said she wants justice, she did not want "an eye for an eye".
"Danielle did not believe in an eye for an eye," she said.
Looking to the coming days, weeks, months and years ahead without Danielle, Andrea said she simply does not know how she is going to cope.
"I don't know, I really don't know. I don't know life without Danielle. I don't know what life is going to be like. I don't want to even think about it," she said.
Ms McLaughlin was the eldest of five daughters.
She had been celebrating Holi - a Hindu spring festival - on the night she was killed.
Her body was discovered near the holiday hot-spot of Canacona earlier this month.
One man - Vikat Bhagat (23) - was swiftly arrested over her death and police said he confessed to the attack.