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Britt Lapthorne.........found dead

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Britt Lapthorne.........found dead

Post  Guest on Thu 28 Oct - 0:19

Britt Lapthorne.........found dead


Post subject: missing in croatia australian Britt LapthorneMorePosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 3:24 am



Location: tasmania australia Body found in search for Britt
October 7, 2008, 12:16 pm
Britt's dad will provide police with a DNA sample to determine if the body found is his daughter's. AAP © [Enlarge photo]

* 7News in CroatiaBody parts found off Dubrovnik may be Britt
* News search: Britt LapthorneMore news at Yahoo!7

The nightmare facing missing Australian backpacker Britt Lapthorne's family deepened when Croatian police failed to inform them they had recovered an unidentified body off the coast of Dubrovnik.

Instead, her father Dale, older brother Darren and boyfriend Simon Imberger learned of the discovery through the media before breaking the news to her mother Elke in Melbourne.

As the body was being pulled from the Bay of Boninovo, near the town centre where Ms Lapthorne vanished early on September 18, Dale Lapthorne said he spoke with one reporter who advised him to call the police.

When he did, police told him there was nothing to report, but a short time later, another journalist told Mr Lapthorne the body was "possibly Britt".

"They could have called us and told us," Mr Lapthorne said of the police.

He added that the only information coming from police was that an autopsy would be performed and that the remains were unlikely to belong to Ms Lapthorne because they were too badly decomposed.

"The body is quite badly decomposed, which appears to be inconsistent with somebody who has been missing for the time Britt has," Mr Lapthorne said.

Police also asked Mr Lapthorne for his daughter's dental records and a DNA sample.

"I'm totally numb," Mr Lapthorne told reporters.

"We're just totally drained and exhausted."

His wife later echoed his sentiments in a statement.

"I am emotionally and physically exhausted after a very distressing night with the news out of Dubrovnik," Mrs Lapthorne said.

"My family and I simply need to sleep and regroup for what we know will be a difficult next 24 hours."

Police spokesman Ivan Kukrika said authorities would only contact the family when they knew the identity of the remains.

"We have rules that we are not contacting the family until we have something for sure," he said.

But the lack of communication was another blow for the Lapthornes, who have continually been shut out of the investigation into the disappearance of their daughter, who was last seen at the Latino Club Fuego nightclub.

Despite the Australian Federal Police sending an officer to Dubrovnik nearly a week ago, Mr Lapthorne met him for the first time on Sunday - before the remains were found.

"His parting gesture with me today was like, 'it was nice to meeting you and I wish you all the best,' that was the feeling I had, although I believe he was stationed here for an indefinite period," Mr Lapthorne said.

"I was really quite disappointed."

Mr Lapthorne said he was grateful to the Australian embassy in Croatia for providing two staffers who had been a "great support" and were "trying their hardest" in difficult circumstances.

"We're not in the loop," he said.

A fisherman alerted police shortly after 11am local time on Sunday (2000 AEDT Monday) when he saw the body floating in waters just west of the walled citadel.

Police recovered the remains near a popular local swimming spot and in front of two five-star resorts a short time later.

As the drama unfolded, Mr Lapthorne, his son and Mr Imberger sought a brief escape.

"We hibernated a little," Dale Lapthorne said.

"We went out of Dubrovnik. Simon, Darren and myself, we thought we'd just get some time to ourselves.

"We went and walked and we actually had a bit of a laugh and we all agreed it was very therapeutic."

Asked what had brought smiles to their faces at such a difficult time, Mr Lapthorne said thoughts of his daughter in happier times.

"She was always a character," he said.

"To have a little bit of a laugh and light relief was good for us and we all agreed it was a good thing to do, a more positive thing to do than sitting up in the room and moping and being distressed."


this young girl was about 21 and WAS abducted unlike the mcanns shoddy story these parents are beside themsleves

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Re: Britt Lapthorne.........found dead

Post  Guest on Thu 28 Oct - 0:20

Body is Britt's: police

Police have confirmed that a body found floating in the sea off Dubrovnik on Monday is Britt Lapthorne, the Melbourne girl who went missing from a local nightclub three weeks ago.

DNA testing on the corpse, recovered by Croatian water police on Monday, has confirmed that it is the young traveller despite local police insisting that it was "unlikely to be Britt."

The police held a press conference at police headquarters in Dubrovnik at 7.45pm local time but informed Britt's father, Dale and her brother, Darren, before making the test results public.

The news is a double blow to the family who underwent the terrible rollercoaster ride of being told a body had been found by media on Monday morning and the police announcing just hours later that it could not be Britt because the body was so decomposed.

However Dubrovnik Deputy Chief of Police, Ivan Kukrika, confirmed last night that DNA analysis has now shown conclusively that the body is Britt's.

''DNA analysis has been completed in capital Zagreb. According to the analysis, the body found in the sea on October 6th belongs to the missing Australian, Britt Lapthorne'', he said.

"I have to admit that I had, based on the state the body was in, really thought that it was not Britt and that this case would result in a happy ending."

The test results are a particularly cruel find as all week, Britt's father, Dale, has been reassured by a detective from Zagreb that it was more than 90 per cent unlikely that the body was that of his daughter. He was told that the corpse was too decomposed to have only been in the water for two and a half weeks and that as Ms Lapthorne, 21, had unusually perfect teeth and no fillings, ruling her out may have been even more simple.

But the Croatian police appear to have made yet another mistake, echoing one three years ago when another tourist disappeared from a nightclub in Porec in the north and was found in the sea. Initial forensic reports suggested that the body had been in the water for more than eight months and police insisted that it could not be the Briton, Peter Rushton. However tests later showed that it was him and he had been beaten, tied up and murdered and his clothes filled with stones.

Two men were later charged with his murder.

The police said that it was too early to tell the cause of Britt's death but that further tests would be conducted.

Last night, a receptionist at the Berkeley Hotel where Dale and Darren Lapthorne have been staying said the family was "devastated" but that no further comment would be made.

The body was found at the bottom of a rock face known as Boninovo where another young Croatian was found dead exactly 12 months ago after a night out in a nightclub.

While the Boninovo rock below which Britt was found on Monday is known as the Dubrovnik suicide spot, there is no evidence to suggest that she was depressed.

The police said that it was too early to tell the cause of death but that further tests would be conducted.

Police said that investigations and interviews with backpackers and friends who were with Britt on the night of her disappearance are continuing and more and more information is emerging from Interpol.

http://www.theage.com.au/national/body-is-britts-police-20081011-4ykt.html?page=-1

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Re: Britt Lapthorne.........found dead

Post  Guest on Thu 28 Oct - 0:21


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Post  Guest on Thu 28 Oct - 0:23

'Britt has everything to live for'
By Emma Alberici in Dubrovnik

Posted Sun Oct 5, 2008 7:32am AEDT
Updated Sun Oct 5, 2008 7:37am AEDT


Miss Lapthorne was last seen at a nightclub in the seaside village of Dubrovnik on September 18. (ABC TV)

Related Story: Missing backpacker's father attacks Govt Related Story: Search for missing backpacker focuses on friends The father of missing Melbourne backpacker Britt Lapthorne has told police in Croatia that his daughter would not have wandered off on her own.

On his first day in the seaside town of Dubrovnik, Dale Lapthorne visited the nightclub where his 21-year-old daughter was last seen.

He stroked a picture of his daughter on a poster outside the club.

Many others have been put up all over the medieval town, asking people with information to come forward.

A 100,000 euro ($177,612) reward has been posted for anyone who can help the local investigation.

Mr Lapthorne and his son also met with the town's Mayor, the Australian ambassador to Croatia and the head of the police investigation.

Mr Lapthorne says there are no new leads in the case, but he stressed to all parties that his daughter would not have chosen to disappear because she had everything to live for.

"If it was a case of Britt deciding to disappear, that's just totally, totally out of character," he said.

"She is a happy girl, she is never anything else but happy.

"She loves life, she's got everything to live for, and she was just having a wild trip. She just loved this part of the world."


Senate delegation

The Australian Senate delegation visiting Dubrovnik has also met with the Mayor, as well as Miss Lapthorne's family.

Senate President John Hogg was in Croatia on a parliamentary visit when Ms Lapthorne disappeared.

Today he and his Senate colleagues met with the Lapthorne family to discuss the case.

Also among the delegation were Barnaby Joyce, Steve Fielding and Phillip Ruddock, who all offered their support to the family.

Dubrovnik's mayor Dubravka Suica said that as a mother she understood what pain the Lapthornes must be going through.

The mayor said she was confident Miss Lapthorne would be found soon and such a case was unheard of in the small coastal village, where there have only been three murders in the past five years.

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Post  Guest on Thu 28 Oct - 0:23

Missing backpacker's father attacks Govt
By Emma Alberici and staff

Posted Sat Oct 4, 2008 12:00pm AEST
Updated Sat Oct 4, 2008 12:50pm AEST


Miss Lapthorne was last seen at a nightclub in the seaside village of Dubrovnik in the early hours of September 18. (ABC TV)

Related Story: Hostel owner's son quizzed over missing backpacker Related Story: Father, boyfriend join search for missing backpacker The father of a Melbourne backpacker missing in Croatia has lashed out at what he says has been a pitiful assistance effort by Australian authorities in the search for his 21-year-old daughter.

Dale Lapthorne arrived in Dubrovnik overnight, 16 days after his daughter Britt went missing from a hostel in the seaside resort town.

He says he will not leave Croatia without his daughter, and he is keen to lend his services to the search operation being carried out by local police.

There are 140 officers, as well as a 40-strong search-and-rescue team, scouring the mountains surrounding Dubrovnik, but only one person has been questioned in relation to Ms Lapthorne's disappearance.

That person was Ivica Perkovic, the owner of the hostel where she had been staying.

There had been a phone call made from Britt Lapthorne's mobile phone to him the day before she disappeared, but police say he is not a suspect.

Police in Croatia will now work with Interpol officials to search for seven people who were travelling with Ms Lapthorne before she disappeared.

Despite the lack of progress, Mr Lapthorne has praised the efforts of local police, despite launching a stinging attack on what he called their "fumbling and bumbling" efforts less than a week ago.

His anger is now directed at the Australian Government, which he says is not doing enough to help an Australian in distress overseas.

"I needed to get the Australian Government to act," he said.

"The taxpayers of Australia want their people looked after and we should be represented.

"Same as if it were a Croatian person in Australia that went missing. You would expect your government to represent you as well."

The Australian Ambassador to Croatia arrived in Dubrovnik today to help coordinate search efforts.


Lack of suspects

The thing that is most confounding investigators in Dubrovnik is the question of why all of Ms Lapthorne's travelling companions chose to leave Dubrovnik on the day of her disappearance without speaking to police.

Hostel owner Mr Perkovic's brother Nichola says police held his brother for 36 hours because all the other people with information had scattered.

"He's one of the rare people that saw Britt and he's still in Dubrovnik," he said.

"All those people that went out with her are already in Amsterdam, in Greece, in Italy."

The lack of information is clearly adding to Mr Lapthorne's stress, and he says he will keep looking for as long as it takes.

"How could I hop on a plane and go without [her]? I can't imagine that. I just can't do it, you know," he said.

"We love our kids. Darren and Britt are what Elka and I live for, you know. And Elka will probably join me in a month's time.

"I hope tomorrow we can pack up and go, that's my absolute hope.

"And I hope with the support of the Croatian people and government and the efforts of the Australian Government, after all that we can work together in recovering Britt."

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Re: Britt Lapthorne.........found dead

Post  Guest on Thu 28 Oct - 0:24

Hostel owner's son quizzed over missing backpacker
Posted Fri Oct 3, 2008 8:00am AEST
Updated Fri Oct 3, 2008 10:29am AEST


Britt Lapthorn disappeared in Dubrovnik more than two weeks ago. (http://www.facebook.com)
The mother of a Melbourne backpacker missing in Croatia says police have questioned the son of the owner of the hostel where she was staying.

Britt Lapthorne, 21, was last seen leaving a nightclub in Dubrovnik more than two weeks ago.

Ms Lapthorne's father and boyfriend are travelling to the city to join her brother in the search for her.

Elke Lapthorne says her son has told her that police have spoken to the hostel owner's son.

"When I spoke to Darren this morning he said that's exactly what they did. They took the son in for questioning," she said.

"Apparently the hostel has been searched all over and really, that's all we know."

Mrs Lapthorne says her daughter's phone records have revealed little about her movements.

"They've determined that one of the local calls was made to the hostel, and Britt may have been making contact for her to be picked up by the son because that was his job," she said.

"He was a tour conductor as well, I don't know, we're just assuming things."

Mrs Lapthorne says her family is satisfied that Britt's disappearance is now being taken seriously.

"We're expecting the worst but someone said to me that her body is worth more alive than dead," she said.

"It's terrible, you know, Britt lives in my heart and she's got to be alive, but I just don't know

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Post  Guest on Thu 28 Oct - 0:25

Britt Lapthorne's disappearance: hostel owner's son held

Peter Wilson and Milanda Rout From: The Australian October 03, 2008 12:00AM

THE son of a Croatian hostel owner was last night in custody of police investigating the disappearance of Australian backpacker Britt Lapthorne.
Police at Dubrovnik took Ivica Perkovic into custody as officers launched a fresh search of woods and coastline about 1km from the hostel where Ms Lapthorne was staying before her disappearance two weeks ago. The hunt raised hopes that police may have new information about the fate of the Melbourne student, last seen at a Dubrovnik nightclub early on September 18.

Last night, police took Mr Perkovic to his family's hostel where he led about a dozen investigators throughout the four-storey building for more than two hours after which he was taken to a police station.

At one point, Mr Perkovic, wearing jeans and a T-shirt, led investigators wearing white gloves into a garage beside the property.


Police erected plastic tape on either side of the hostel to keep the media and bystanders away as forensic investigators worked their way through the house with Mr Perkovic.

Later, Mr Perkovic could be seen carrying a long electrical extension cable out of the ground floor of the hostel.

As Mr Perkovic was being driven to the hostel, police chief Ivan Kresic denied a report by the Nine Network in Australia that Mr Perkovic was under arrest.

Yesterday's developments came a day after police held an informal interview with Mr Perkovic, 33, the son of the owners of the Ibiza Dubrovnik hostel where Ms Lapthorne, 21, was staying. Mr Perkovic protested his innocence.

Telephone records show the Australian woman called his mobile phone on the day before she was last seen, but his number appears on the hotel's website and is the normal contact point for guests.

Ms Lapthorne was last seen by friends some time after 3am in the Fuego nightclub and friends said she had been drinking heavily.

Police believe she may have accepted a lift from a stranger or tried to make the 30-minute walk back to the hostel.

More than 20 police and members of the local mountain rescue squad yesterday scoured the undergrowth of beachside woods in Babin Kuk, a resort area dotted with old war bunkers and thick bushes.

The search was focused in woods below the hostel, on a peninsula about 5km northwest of Dubrovnik's Old Town and Fuego nightclub.

Meanwhile, a Melbourne veterinarian who shared a room with Ms Lapthorne, and who raised the alarm when she went missing, has only just been contacted by investigators, despite leaving her details with Australian Federal Police, Foreign Affairs officials and the Australian embassy almost two weeks ago.

Lydia Hambrook first rang the Australian embassy in Croatia just 36 hours after Ms Lapthorne was last seen because she "didn't strike me as a girl who would disappear like that".

The 28-year-old had even spoken to police in Norway about Ms Lapthorne's disappearance, but was contacted by Interpol Australia only last night.

She also revealed that Croatian police told the hostel owners that if Ms Lapthorne chose to "party for days on end, that was not their concern" and they would only take action once she was missing for four or five days.

A DFAT spokesman said it had immediately contacted Dubrovnik police after being told of Ms Lapthorne's disappearance on September 19.

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Post  Guest on Thu 28 Oct - 0:26

Mother warns on blaming Britt Stephen Lunn From: The Australian October 06, 2008 12:00AM Increase Text SizeDecrease Text SizePrintEmail Share
Add to DiggAdd to del.icio.usAdd to FacebookAdd to KwoffAdd to MyspaceAdd to NewsvineWhat are these?THE mother of Britt Lapthorne has warned a Croatian hostel worker to be "very careful" after he branded the missing Melbourne student "promiscuous" following his release from police questioning.
A furious Elke Lapthorne yesterday accused Ivica Perkovic, whose parents own the Dubrovnik hostel where her 21-year-old daughter was staying before she disappeared two weeks ago, of "trying to put the blame on Britt".

In a weekend interview with a Zagreb newspaper, Mr Perkovic, 33, said Ms Lapthorne was known to stay out all night and had been blind drunk on a trip to Sarajevo.

"The fact is that none of her friends she was travelling with or partying with cared that she did not show up the morning afterwards in the hostel," Mr Perkovic said. "They thought she was the kind of person you don't need to worry if she didn't turn up in the morning. We wanted to help (locate her) and also asked other hotels she had been to. They said she was a very kind person, naive ... maybe too open a person and also promiscuous."

Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar.
Related CoverageBritt's death still a mystery
Herald Sun, 29 Dec 2008
Britt Lapthorne memorial
Adelaide Now, 7 Nov 2008
All alone and helpless
Courier Mail, 18 Oct 2008
Backpacker's dad to help identify body
The Australian, 7 Oct 2008
Body found as police search for Britt
The Australian, 6 Oct 2008
.End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar.
Mr Perkovic said Ms Lapthorne had been an adventurous traveller, visiting places such as Sarajevo and Macedonia.

"While she was staying in Sarajevo, people remember that she got so drunk she didn't know what she was doing," he said in the interview. "I hear from people that were close to her that she had a habit of disappearing once in a while."

Mr Perkovic was called in for questioning last Wednesday after police discovered a message sent from Ms Lapthorne's phone to his the day before she disappeared. He was released without charge and was not declared a suspect.

Ms Lapthorne said hearing Mr Perkovic's comments about her daughter "broke my heart".

She told The Australian yesterday Britt had never been promiscuous or a big drinker.

"Every mother knows their little girl," she said. "I know my little girl, and she's not that kind of girl. I think he's being very clever in trying to put the blame on Britt."

Ms Lapthorne expressed disappointment at the response by Australian authorities to her daughter's situation.

"Apparently Kevin Rudd said all resources would be brought to bear to help us find our daughter. I'd like to know what resources he's talking about.

"There is one AFP officer over there, and since he's been there he's made no contact with my husband and son.

"And all the new information and leads seem to be coming from the media."

Her son, Darren, has been in Dubrovnik for almost a week, and her husband Dale arrived on Friday night.

Ms Lapthorne, a student at Melbourne's RMIT, was last seen with other backpackers in the early hours of September 18 at the Latino Club Fuego nightclub in Dubrovnik.

Her father has vowed to stay in the Adriatic seaport until his daughter is found. So far he has been able to find out little about the police investigation. "It's confidential information even within their circles - they are not prepared to disclose to us, and to some extent I don't want to know. All I know is if progress is being made," he said.

An army helicopter has been used to search for Ms Lapthorne in the mountains surrounding the town. And two specialist police officers from the Croatian capital of Zagreb have been assigned to the case.

Additional reporting: AAP

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Re: Britt Lapthorne.........found dead

Post  Guest on Thu 28 Oct - 0:28

Britt Lapthorne: All alone and helpless From: The Sunday Mail (Qld) October 18, 2008 11:00PM Increase Text SizeDecrease Text SizePrintEmail Share
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TRAGEDY: Britt Lapthorpe Source: The Courier-Mail
SO YOUNG, so optimistic, so vulnerable. The story of Britt Lapthorne, with her hopeful smile and spirit of adventure, has touched Australians like few other cases in recent memory.
SO YOUNG, so optimistic, so vulnerable. The story of Britt Lapthorne, with her hopeful smile and spirit of adventure, has touched Australians like few other cases in recent memory.Since she disappeared from a Croatian nightclub on September 18, the accusations have flown: Did the local police act quickly enough? Why did her family feel so let down by Australian Federal Police and embassy officials? And the biggest question of all: Could Britt have been saved?

The first that Australian officials knew of Britt's disappearance was Friday, September 19, when her friend Lydia Hambrook rang the Australian Embassy in Zagreb.

It had already been two days since Britt failed to return to their Dubrovnik hostel after partying at nightspot Club Fuego, and Ms Hambrook's efforts to persuade the hostel owners to call police had failed.


On September 19, she rang the Australian Embassy to report her fears. Officials called Dubrovnik police, who advised "a search would be conducted, but, because Ms Lapthorne was an adult and she had not been gone long, there was little it could do", Labor Senator John Faulkner told Parliament last week.

Three days later, an embassy official called Dubrovnik police again to find out if there was any news. No word.

On September 23, Croatian police said they had contacted Interpol to alert them Britt was missing and on September 24 – six days after she went missing – the Dubrovnik police finally asked the Australian Embassy to contact Britt's family in Australia, to ask whether she had made contact.

That delay is one of the many things angering the Lapthornes. What was happening to Britt during that time? Was she alive?

Privacy protocols at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are strict. Even if embassy officials fear a person is missing, they cannot contact next-of-kin without confirmation from local police of that "missing" status.

In this case, DFAT used an exemption in the Privacy Act to call the Lapthornes in Melbourne. Britt's brother Darren rushed to Dubrovnik to search for his sister – but, in the ancient city by the sea, he found frustration.

Australian ambassador to Croatia, Tracy Reid, and a Croatian-speaking embassy officer met Darren Lapthorne in Croatia on September 28 and lined up meetings for him with the Dubrovnik police and Interior Ministry officials. From that date on, two embassy officials remained in Dubrovnik to work on the case.

The bouncer and staff at Club Fuego told Darren Lapthorne they had not been interviewed, despite police claims to the contrary.

Croatian police were telling journalists they had been unable to contact the group of seven backpackers which had been staying at the same hostel as Britt.

But when Sunday Mail journalist David Murray visited the hostel, owner Milka Perkovic handed over phone numbers for some of the "missing" backpackers – who answered their phones and said police had not contacted them.

Last week, Portuguese backpackers Marina Moreira and Guilhermo Silveira said they were still waiting to be interviewed by police.

Police initially told Darren Lapthorne the seven closed-circuit cameras in the nightclub were not working on the night Britt vanished because of a blackout. When he demanded records of this blackout, they changed their story, saying instead there was "interference with the wires".

Out front, a city council camera had recorded only "inconclusive" footage, the police claimed.

And they were caught out again when Darren demanded to see the footage in a meeting on September 28; forced to admit they did not have it. Three days later, the police told Darren Lapthorne there was no footage from the city camera; it, too, had not been working on the crucial night.

On October 2, Kevin Rudd claimed the Government was acting, promising to leave "no stone unturned" in the search for Britt.

The Government says it made "extensive representations to the Croatian Government on the importance we placed in the Croatian police pursuing a comprehensive and effective investigation". Briefly, it seemed to the Lapthornes things had improved: Police raided the hostel and questioned manager Ivica Perkovic.

However, the very day after Mr Rudd's announcement, Dale Lapthorne says he was told by embassy officials they were withdrawing the services of the consular official acting as interpreter. The Lapthornes say the decision was reversed later that day, after the media made inquiries.

AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith both contacted their Croatian counterparts, while senators Steve Fielding and John Hogg, who were in Dubrovnik, met with Croatian Government officials.

Senator Fielding visited Club Fuego, talked to the barman, walked the route Britt would have taken back to her hostel that night, and promised to try and help.

However, the Croatian police continued refusing to divulge "confidential" information to the family.

"Apparently Kevin Rudd said all resources would be brought to bear to help us find our daughter," Britt's mother Elke said on October 5.

"I'd like to know what resources he's talking about. There's one AFP officer over there, and since he's been there he's made no contact with my husband (Dale) and son."

That officer, Mark Dokmanovic, had been deployed from London on September 30 to liaise between Croatian and Australian police and the embassy.

The family says he made no contact with them for five full days. When approached in the streets of Dubrovnik by Mr Murray, federal agent Dokmanovic simply ignored questions.

It later emerged that although agent Dokmanovic spoke Croatian, he was a Serbian nationalist, with the words "Serbia Forever" tattooed on his legs.

It was a PR disaster for the AFP. It wasn't until Dale Lapthorne made an almighty fuss in the press – referring to agent Dokmanovic as "the phantom" – that he finally got in touch.

The AFP was already under fire, with Dale Lapthorne claiming two officers had told him to refrain from talking publicly because there were "bigger issues at stake".

After that controversy, and a related fuss over claims (rejected by the AFP) that it had taken down a Facebook site relating to Britt, the AFP decided to leave all consular support of the family to DFAT.

In any foreign jurisdiction, Australian police travel on diplomatic passports but have no powers to investigate without a specific request from local police.

And Croatian police did not want any help. When AFP Assistant Commissioner Tim Morris arrived at an Interpol summit in St Petersburg on October 7, his offer of technical help to his Croatian counterparts was rejected. On another two occasions, the offer was repeated, and declined.

The Lapthornes say they understand the jurisdictional issue – they just wanted empathy and communication; a phone call, some information, guidance.

Things were about to get even more complicated. On October 6, Croatian police revealed a body had been found floating off the cliffs – but they did not tell the Lapthornes, and later that day again failed to forewarn them before telling media the body was "almost certainly" not Britt.

On October 10, Darren and Dale Lapthorne were told DNA tests confirmed the body was Britt's.

More pain followed: revelations the body was missing teeth, hair and limbs, an inconclusive autopsy report – and still no arrests.

Both the AFP and DFAT feel they have been unfairly criticised. "People forget that when you travel to another country, you subject yourself to everything that country has to offer; their laws, their administrators, the whole kit and caboodle," one senior source says.

The Lapthornes are now happy with the treatment they're getting from Australian officials: DFAT is helping with the return of Britt's body and AFP officers have visited Mrs Lapthorne in Melbourne and are in communication with family members in Dubrovnik.

The Lapthornes are also in regular communication with Senator Fielding, and support his moves to demand an official inquiry into whether AFP and DFAT should have done more.

To the family, the questions remain. What happened to Britt? Could she have been saved if the case had been handled differently? Elke Lapthorne has no doubt.

"She could have been found earlier and alive," Mrs Lapthorne has said. "Of course I am not happy with the investigation. As a mother I hope they find the person, people or animals responsible for this."

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