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DNA Tests Confirm Body Is Aussie Britt Lapthorne

  • October 16th, 2008
  • Posted by Monique Ross

britt.jpgFamily and friends of missing Australian backpacker Britt Lapthorne, had their worst fears confirmed on Saturday (11.10.08), with police confirming the badly damaged body found in waters off Dubrovnik last week belonged to the 21 year old Melbourne student.

Deputy Police Chief Ivan Kukrica told a press conference that DNA tests on the body, in the Croatian capital of Zabreb, matched samples taken from Britt’s father Dale Lapthorne and from her toothbrush.

The discovery brought a 23 day search to a close, but many questions about the circumstances surrounding Britt’s death and signs of a bungled investigation by Dubrovnik police remain unanswered.

Mr Lapthorne demanded answers to the widely-criticised police investigation, which he labeled a “farce”.

Problems with the investigation were evident when Britt’s brother, Darren, arrived in Dubrovnik (on 17.09.08) nine days after Britt’s disappearance and found that police had “barely started” their investigation, said Mr Lapthorne.

Australian journalist David Murray reported he had been to Britt’s hostel and found the telephone numbers for key witnesses pinned to a message board – numbers that police said could not be found.

“They answered their phones, and said no-one had contacted them”, said Mr Murray.

Mr Lapthorne also criticised advice given by Australian Federal Police, who, he said, told him there were “bigger issues at stake”.

They said to “tone down the language, ignore the media…and think of the bigger picture, of the relationship between Australia and Croatia.”
The body of Britt Lapthorne was found in the Bay of Boninovo (06.10.08), a few hundred metres away from the Fuego nightclub, where she was last seen. dubrovnik.jpgPolice had at first assured the Lapthorne family it was almost impossible for the body to be hers because of the “level of decomposition”.

The Bay of Boninovo is just a short distance from cliffs which have a sheer drop of almost 60 metres; fuelling speculation the death may have been accidental.

However, Mr Murray said sources close to Britt believed she was “butchered before being thrown into the sea,” and quoted expert sources who stated that her injuries were inconsistent with a fall or natural decomposition.

Police in Dubrovnik confirmed in a statement that the body was in “several pieces”, but refused to comment on the possibilities of accident or foul play.

Although still awaiting results of the first autopsy, family members said a second autopsy would be carried out in Melbourne.

The Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith offered sympathy to the family and gave an assurance that Australian consular staff would remain in Dubrovnik as long as needed.Reference

Murray, D. 2008. ‘Fears a Beautiful Life Came to a Brutal End’, The Sunday Mail, Brisbane, 12.10.08. p.4

O’Connell, B. 2008. ‘Britt Lapthorne bungle inquiry’, The Herald Sun Online, 16.10.08.,21985,24503517-661,00.html, (17.10.08).
Wilson, P., and Rout, M. ‘Backpacker Britt Lapthorne’s wild night in Croatia bar’, The Australian. 02.10.08. p.4.


Britt Lapthorne,