Britt Lapthorne’s family plan to leave Dubrovnik with her body this
week, hoping Australian experts can give them what Croatian authorities
have not – answers about how the young backpacker died.
father Dale Lapthorne is desperate for information that might assist
police, and has attacked as almost “childish” an inconclusive autopsy
report that Croatian authorities took a week to complete.
two-page report released late yesterday said there was no evidence of
violence on Britt’s badly decomposed body, recovered from the sea off
Dubrovnik on October 6.
But Lapthorne said a high school
student could have written a better summary, and it was nothing more
than a physical description of the remains with no mention of any
toxicology or forensic testing.
Lapthorne said the autopsy
report suggested the poor state of the body may be attributed to it
being smashed against rocks by waves, without providing any proof.
to the autopsy report as interpreted to us, it cannot be determined
whether foul play was involved or not,” Lapthorne said.
he suggested the finding was almost meaningless, given the body’s
advanced state of decomposition and the cursory nature of the autopsy
” … of course there is no evidence of foul play –
the body is in such a poor state that nothing can be determined from it
without scientific testing or forensic evidence and that hasn’t been
undertaken at all.”
The judge who ordered the autopsy, which was
performed by one medical examiner in Dubrovnik, today said it was
impossible to carry out toxicology tests because there was so little
soft tissue left when the remains were recovered.
Speaking a day
after he was photographed swimming in the same bay where Britt’s body
was found, Judge Djordjo Benussi confirmed the remains bore no signs of
The Lapthorne family is pinning its hopes on
further tests the Victorian coroner’s office has agreed to carry out
once the body is back in Australia.
“The coroner has assured us of an in-depth, thorough, world-class assessment of Britt,” Lapthorne said.
also been offered by the Australian Federal Police the opportunity to
have yet another independent pathologist undertake tests, but I am
confident in the coroner’s office.
“If it concurs with what has been investigated in Croatia, fine and good, I accept that.”
Lapthorne said police had told him a criminal investigation was continuing.
He said he hoped the case would not be “swept under the carpet” once the family left Croatia.
am assured by the authorities that will not be the case, but when you
have a statement like was made by the police, that is a great fear, a
great fear, because it’s an inaccurate statement,” he said.
“Their statement was that there were no signs of foul play, indicating that it was an accident. That is not the case.”
Given the “fairly low level of autopsy, how could you conclude anything?” he asked.
Lapthorne, his son Darren and Britt’s boyfriend Simon Imberger plan to leave with her body late this week.
devastated father spoke of the small comfort it would bring him to
escort his daughter home to Britt’s grieving mother, Elke, in Melbourne.
The return trip would be “the most stressful time of our lives”, Lapthorne said.
came here to retrieve Britt, hopefully in a state that she was alive
and we could take her home. We failed. But, as a very poor consolation
prize, we go home with Britt on our last journey with us.
“That is better than no closure at all … it’s a very shallow closure and one we will never get over, but we have something.
“We have failed but we have not totally failed.”
best mate Liza Nas today said she would hold a candlelight memorial for
her lost friend in Melbourne’s Flagstaff Gardens on Saturday night.
is an event her family and friends would like to hold, for all those
who supported them through difficult times and helped in the search for
Britt, to thank everyone for everything they have done and a prayer to
guide all those overseas,” she said.
Britt’s mother would be among those in attendance.
wants to take this opportunity to be with all the people who were close
to Britt and to thank everyone, not just in Australia but all over the
world, who supported her family and helped search for Britt.”
family’s bitter disappointment over the quality of the autopsy report
follows their heavy criticism of the Croatian police investigation into
Police delayed searching after she was
last seen at a nightclub in the early hours of September 18 in the
belief that she would turn up.
They failed to inform family
members – who had arrived in Dubrovnik to look for her – when a body
was found in a nearby cove 18 days later and then claimed the remains
were unlikely to be hers because they were too badly decomposed.
Last Friday, police announced that DNA tests had confirmed the body was Britt’s.