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A bouncer at the Croatian nightclub where missing Melbourne backpacker Britt Lapthorne was last seen alive says he saw the 21-year-old leave the club with two men and five women.
Britt's brother Darren, who is in Dubrovnik, and a former Croatian policeman who is helping him in the search for his sister, spoke to the bouncer on the weekend.
The nightclub worker said he distinctly remembered seeing the missing RMIT student and the other women leave the Club Fuego nightclub with the men.
The men offered the group a lift but the women were reluctant to get into their cars, the bouncer told Darren Lapthorne.
Britt's family have criticised the Croatian police force, accusing them of not taking the case seriously.
Her brother, Darren Lapthorne, who lives in Germany, flew to Dubrovnik yesterday but found the local police unco-operative, according to his mother's Facebook entries.
He told his parents that they had interviewed only one backpacker, refusing to track down others who had spent time with his sister. They were out of their jurisdiction because they had travelled to other countries.
Britt, from Eden Park on Melbourne's northern outskirts, disappeared on September 18.
Croatian police claimed they interviewed bouncers and bar staff at the Club Fuego nightclub. But staff told Darren Lapthorne that no one had questioned them.
"Darren was extremely depressed after yesterday, seeing the police doing absolutely nothing, obviously telling lies, lies, lies and just hoping it will go away,'' Britt's father said.
Britt's mother, Elke, has appealed to the Australian Government to do more, saying daily updates provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs were a "farce''.
But her father later this morning said his family realised DFAT was doing what it could but ``they're being fed lies and they pass those lies on to us, it's not their fault''.
"All I'm asking the minister is to confront the Foreign Minister in Croatia and say we want quality resources and we want results.''
Dale Lapthorne intends to leave for Dubrovnik on Friday with a friend of his daughter.
"I don't want to be in Croatia forever looking for my daughter, I want it fixed,'' he said.
The family are hoping to get in touch with with two male Monash University students who had travelled in a bus from the accommodation that the missing backpacker was staying in to the nightclub. One was studying aeronautical design, the other engineering.
Speaking to Derryn Hinch on 3AW late this afternoon, he said he believed he and his family had been treated like "mugs'' by the Croatian police.
"We all thought everything was being done... we'll get a resolution to this quickly and several days later we find that absolutely nothing has been done. Nothing,'' he said.
As the nightclub owner claimed police did not start investigating until eight days after Ms Lapthorne's disappearance, Monash University student David Barbalatt said he last saw the 21-year-old at Latino Club Fuego in the coastal town's historic port before he left at 3.30am on September 18.
Mr Barbalatt was one of two Monash University students Ms Lapthorne's family has been trying to track down to piece together the last movements of their daughter before she disappeared.
"Police are not used to serious disappearances here and they seem to have been just expecting that she would turn up," Mr Lapthorne said. "But there's no way she would leave her passport and other papers behind and just disappear like that. She is street-smart and a seasoned traveller. But she came here really relaxed ... She was at the point where she might have been a bit more complacent about meeting people and I think someone could have seen that weakness."
Ms Lapthorne's father Dale, who is heading to Croatia today, said it was a "horrific" journey to make but the family was more positive after political pressure had made the Croatian authorities start investigating the disappearance. "I am extremely anxious and scared. This is the most difficult journey I have done in my life."
Mr Barbalatt told The Australian via email that he had been out with Ms Lapthorne at the Dubrovnik nightclub on the night she went missing.
"Britt was among our group, which consisted of about 10 people, all of whom were staying at our hostel," he said. "Britt was very intoxicated with alcohol and at one point dropped a champagne glass on the floor on purpose and was kicked out of the club. Somehow she made it back inside the club after that incident."
Mr Barbalatt said he and another Monash University student stayed at the nightclub until 3.30am and then took a taxi back to their hostel. "Britt was still in the club with most of the people from the hostel that we went out with," he wrote.
THE father of Britt Lapthorne says it would be an "extraordinary" coincidence if the body discovered at Dubrovnik is not his daughter.
Dale Lapthorne wants police to use dental records to identify whether the body recovered from the sea is his daughter.
"A very quick and easy ID for Britt is her teeth,'' Mr Lapthorne said.
"Her teeth are perfect. She's had them straightened; she's never had a filling. That is reasonably unusual for people, so that's a very quick ID for Britt.''
Mr Lapthorne is furious with Croatian authorities after hearing about the body's discovery through the media rather than police.
He has also dismissed the usefulness of a Australian Federal Police officer sent to Croatia to assist with the investigation, describing him as a "political tool".
Police say the badly decomposed remains are unlikely to be those of the 21-year-old, who has been missing since September 18.
In Dubrovnik, Mr Lapthorne described feeling "totally numb'' after the most traumatic day of his life.
"It is just extraordinary. It's your worst nightmare in many ways,'' he said.
"With this body we almost had some closure. I could at least say I am going home with Britt.''
Asked if he a gut-feeling about what an autopsy and identification tests would reveal, he said: "I just don't.''
Dubrovnik deputy district commander Ivan Kukrika said he did not believe that it was Britt's remains that had been discovered.
An autopsy will be conducted at 10am local time (7pm Melbourne time) and police will use DNA tests to provide confirmation, he said.
"We can almost for sure tell that the body is not Britt's body,'' Mr Kukrika said at a press conference.
The remains were more likely to belong to an illegal immigrant from Albania or Montenegro that had been dumped over the side of a boat some time ago, he said.
AN autopsy on Melbourne backpacker Britt Lapthorne was "childish" and sheds no light on how she died, her stunned father said last night.
"A grade 12 student could do a better job than this," Dale Lapthorne said after being read the report.
"It was two pages and most of that was headings."
The report described the damage to the body but made no attempt to explain how it came to be in such a horrific state, he said.
"To some extent it's far worse than what we had been told previously," Mr Lapthorne said.
The Victorian Coroner would conduct a new autopsy when he brought his daughter home this week, he said.
"The body will be picked up by the coroner at the airport. I've been assured that any investigation by the coroner's department will be a thorough scientific investigation at a very high level."
The autopsy took a week to complete, which Britt's family believes was an unacceptable delay that may have hindered their search for answers. Reports in local media were suggesting that there had been a finding of no foul play, but Mr Lapthorne strongly refuted this.
"There is nothing in the report from the translation made to us that indicates accidental death or death by other means," he said.
"There are no visible signs of an act of death because the body is in such a poor condition.
"I cannot see what assistance that report would give to the police investigation."
The flimsy results are a blow for the Lapthornes, who fear 21-year-old university student Britt met foul play and was dumped at sea.
The investigation into her death must continue despite the findings, Mr Lapthorne said.
"From a society point of view, if there are perpetrators of a crime there needs to be resolution. We can't tolerate people committing such a heinous crime."
Britt's brother, Darren, said: "There's nothing even stating why there was such a rapid rate of decomposition.
In a bizarre press conference held 45 minutes late, at 11.45pm Sydney time last night, the deputy police chief of Dubrovnik, Ivan Kukrika, issued a brief statement saying only that there was "no evidence of violence found on the body".
However, in the four-paragraph statement, provided to the media in Croatian - and translated during the four-minute press conference - Deputy Chief Kukrika said that a criminal investigation was continuing and that information would be provided to the public of Dubrovnik as well as the Lapthorne family.
He also issued a veiled criticism of the media - and the Lapthorne family. He said the police had an obligation to inform the public on how the investigation was proceeding and that they would continue to do this "in the interests of the citizens of Dubrovnik and all of the people currently in Dubrovnik". This would be done to clarify "the different interpretations of media and confusing information or I better say disinformation".
In a bizarre twist, the judge who signed off on Britt's autopsy report went swimming in the bay where her body was found - just two hours after police released the results of her post-mortem.
Judge Djordjo Benussi did his laps at Dance Beach, the rocky inlet which forms part of Boninovo Bay where Britt's badly decomposed body was found floating by a fisherman seven days ago.
Judge Benussi was located after the Australian media found his home address - which is almost next door to Club Fuego, the Latino club where Britt was last seen in the early hours of September 18. A young woman, approximately Britt's age, answered the door and said that the judge was swimming at Dance [pronounced Danche].
International media condemnation of the way Croatian police handled the disappearance of Australian backpacker Britt Lap-thorne contributed to the sacking of a police chief, a Croatian daily newspaper says.
The Slobodna Dalmacija reported the investigation of the Lapthorne case was likely to be one of the reasons Dubrovnik-Neretva police chief Ivan Kresic was sacked.
''Why the dismissal process began with the firing of the Dubrovnik commissioner is open to speculation, but it is certain that the case of Australian Britt Lapthorne had a lot to do with it,'' the paper said.
''Because of the way the investigation was handled the Croatian police was slammed by international media.''
We're just horrified and it's really distressed us like you could not believe. I'm just flabbergasted with the coroner.
- Britt Lapthorne's father Dale
The body of backpacker Britt Lapthorne has been released to her family after the Victorian state coroner told them she might not be able find the cause of her death in Croatia.
Coroner Jennifer Coate on Wednesday said a post-mortem examination of Ms Lapthorne's body was completed on Tuesday but she would not receive the pathologist's written report for another two to three weeks.
"The family has been informed that it might not be possible to find a medical cause of death in the circumstances," Judge Coate said in a statement.
The Lapthorne family, however, was angry the coroner had not consulted them before issuing the statement to the media on Wednesday.
"We're just horrified and it's really distressed us like you could not believe," Britt's father Dale Lapthorne said.
"I'm just flabbergasted with the coroner.
"Up to yesterday it had been agreed a release would be done in consultation with the family and then the coroner releases this without consulting us."
Mr Lapthorne said he was told by the coroner's office a statement had been issued the same time the family started receiving phone calls from the media.
He has written a letter to the coroner's department expressing the family's disappointment.
Her body had been with the Victorian coroner since Mr Lapthorne and his son Darren brought it home from Croatia on October 19 following an inconclusive post-mortem examination in Dubrovnik.
Mr Lapthorne said while the family anticipated difficulties in establishing a cause of death he hoped that, after taking five weeks to examine the body, the Victorian coroner would come up with more detail than Croatian authorities could after a two-hour examination.
"We were expecting there would be difficulties - we had seen the Croatian report - because of the damage to Britt's body," Mr Lapthorne said.
"Finding the cause of Britt's death was not the only task.
"She was in the water 18 days ... it's not just decomposition, it's other means which caused the breakdown of her body.
"Hopefully they can tell us why after 18 days Britt was in a state that made them think she'd been there for 12 months."
Mr Lapthorne said the family was frustrated by the amount of time it would take for the findings to be released and said he was concerned the delay may affect the investigation by Croatian police into Britt's death.
CROATIAN police have dismissed claims a gang of local men, purporting to be police, is preying on travellers at the bar where Britt Lapthorne was last seen alive.
Three young women have told how local men approached and tried to abduct them at or near Club Fuego in Dubrovnik, in separate incidents before and after the Australian disappeared from the same venue.
Two of the women said the men, who were of similar appearance, had claimed to be police.
They said some had carried guns, and one of the men even flashed what he claimed was a police badge.
But Dubrovnik police have dismissed the claims, aired in a Channel 7 investigation for Sunday Night, as "speculations".
The police, whose handling of the Lapthorne death has been heavily criticised, said they would respond to questions raised by the report later this week.
In the same Seven report, Ms Lapthorne's parents accused Dubrovnik police of removing frames of security footage that might hold clues to the 21-year-old's death.
Britt was last seen chatting to some local men at Club Fuego on September 18 last year.
Her badly decomposed body was found floating in the sea on October 8 and Dale and Elka Lapthorne are certain she was murdered.
Dale Lapthorne said footage captured in the early hours of the day Britt disappeared showed a van that matched one used in the other abduction attempts.
Britt's parents viewed the footage on December 30, after repeatedly asking Dubrovnik police to see it.
Mr Lapthorne said they had also seen frames of what he believed was his daughter walking towards the van. But when Seven received the footage, those frames were missing.
"That figure was not on it," he said. "When we viewed it over and over again we saw those particular frames were frozen for several frames, and then the image would jump."
He said he believed Dubrovnik police had tampered with the footage, and removed the frames.
"The police are the only ones who have the CCTV footage," he said.
Meanwhile the owner of Club Fuego has threatened legal action.
Vinko Cosmai said the report was highly damaging to his business, which relied on Australian tourists in the summer season.
In the report, the three women produced forensic sketches of their alleged attackers with the help of forensic artists, and all three agreed the men were of similar appearance.
But Mr Cosmai said most people in Croatia who had watched the report online were "laughing" at claims of a new suspect in the Lapthorne death.
"I don't recognise the men in the drawings and I don't think anyone will. All of Croatia is laughing at these drawings today," said Mr Cosmai, who watched the report in the internet.
"The first woman in Sunday Night who helped with the drawing seemed unsure about it at first, but by the end she was certain about it.
"The other women seemed very eager to believe that those drawings were of the attackers."
TWO men depicted in forensic sketches and linked to the Britt Lapthorne investigation have been identified as Croatian police officers.
Dubrovnik police revealed the identity of the men at a press conference called to address new claims made in a Seven Network report about Ms Lapthorne's death in the Croatian city.
Dubrovnik police spokesman Krunislav Borovec confirmed the men in the sketches were police officers.
But he said they were "very good quality'' policemen who did not harass or rob foreign tourists.
Mr Borovec denied gangs of men were involved in attempted abductions targeting women in Dubrovnik.
"There are no groups that rob girls,'' he told Croatian reporters.
One of the three women interviewed by Seven, identified as Amber, said a group of men armed with guns yelled 'police' as they attempted to abduct her as she walked back to her cruise ship from Club Fuego.
The incident happened five days before Ms Lapthorne, 21, disappeared.
Amber and two friends were on a deserted street about 2am when the incident happened.
"I heard a car accelerate with two men in the front seat and a man hanging out of the side sliding door coming towards me,'' she said.
"He was going to grab me.''
She said the attempt failed and she ran, screaming but moments later "men just started coming out of nowhere, five, might have been seven''.
"They were yelling 'police, police' and they told me to go with them. But when I looked up I knew that the main man that was yelling 'police' was the same man who was hanging out of the van and I knew that we were in trouble.''
Amber said she faked an asthma attack and the men fled.
Of the Lapthorne case she said: "Now that I know what I know, I'm pretty confident that they were the same people.''
New York woman Jennifer told Seven she and two friends were outside Club Fuego 10 days after Ms Lapthorne disappeared when two men - one short, one tall - approached and tried to chat her up.
She rejected them but they approached her again inside the club.
"These guys just came up and said 'hey you're under arrest'.
''(They) showed me what looked like a badge and put it back in really quickly.''
Jennifer said the men beat up her friend to stop her getting away but ultimately left the club in a waiting taxi with several other men.
"We all felt like it was very, very organised,'' she said, adding that she had no doubt the men were a threat to her.
Australian woman Kate told of jumping from a moving van after she foolishly accepted a lift from two men who'd been buying her drinks at Club Fuego, a year before Ms Lapthorne's death.
When it was clear they were taking her to a location against her will, she said she leapt from the vehicle and ran screaming for help.
When shown one of the sketches and asked if it was of one of the men who refused to let her out of the van, she said: "Yeah I think so, even down to the little freckles''.
But the police spokesman Mr Borovec said the Seven report had not revealed anything that would help solve the Lapthorne case.
He said Dubrovnik police continued to investigate, in co-operation with Interpol and Australian police.
CROATIAN police have blamed poor weather for a four-month delay in sending divers to search a bay for Britt Lapthorne's missing belongings.
Dubrovnik police this week said they'd send divers to scour the bay where the Australian backpacker's decomposed body was found in October, three weeks after she disappeared from a nightclub.
They hope to find the Melbourne woman's Canon camera in the hope it may hold some clues about her death.
A Dubrovnik police spokesman told the Vijesti news website the dive mission had been planned "long ago".
But "it was not possible to do until now due to unfavourable weather conditions".
Dubrovnik is currently experiencing poor weather, which stalled the dive, but the city has enjoyed a mostly sunny and mild winter.
The spokesman denied the police dive was prompted by recent media reports that Britt's father Dale Lapthorne was planning to launch his own dive mission.
Mr Lapthorne is convinced his daughter was murdered and has publicly accused Dubrovnik police of frustrating the investigation. He's also claimed police removed frames of security footage that might hold clues to the 21-year-old's death.
Earlier this week, he appealed for funding to mount a search of the bay where Britt was found, hoping it might yield missing body parts including her jaw and foot.
It's not known whether Mr Lapthorne's search will proceed now that police have promised their own mission.
The undertaking follows confirmation that two men other travellers have linked to the Lapthorne case are police officers. Other female travellers who'd partied at Club Fuego before and after Britt disappeared from the nightspot have compiled forensic sketches of two local men they say approached them claiming to be police, but later tried to abduct them.
Dubrovnik police confirmed this month that the men in the sketches were serving police, but said both were "very good quality" officers who did not harass or rob foreign tourists.
This week, the Croatian news site Javno reported the two officers were from the same police department that's the focus of criminal proceedings. However police maintain the officers are not being investigated for anything in relation to the Lapthorne case.
The matter involved "checking the possible overstepping of authority during a night intervention against alcoholised youth," the report said.
Also this week, police made a number of changes among senior ranks.
But police spokesman Krunoslav Borovec denied the changes were the result of discontent over the handling of the Lapthorne case, local media reported.
Britt was last seen chatting to some local men at Club Fuego on September 18 last year. Her badly decomposed body was found floating in a nearby bay on October 8.
Her parents remain convinced she was murdered despite a failure by the Victorian coroner to determine how she died.
The American pals Paxton and Josh meets with the Islander Oli in Paris and the three backpackers travel together to Switzerland, Belgium and Amsterdam having Barcelona as final destination, looking for sex, drugs and booze. While in Amsterdam, they meet Alex, who shows pictures of gorgeous women in gang bang, and suggests the trio to visit the hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia, a place crowded of hot, promiscuous and sexy girls. When they arrive, they meet three delicious girls in the hostel and they believe they have found the lost paradise of sex on Earth. But sooner they find that they have been sold to a sadistic group of the Elite Hunting, and their dream becomes their worst nightmare.
Originally posted by OZtracized
The only thing you left out was that her legs were chopped off. The police had claimed she fell off the cliff by accident or suicide. Her father then, unsurprisingly, remarked something like "so she fell off the cliff and cut off her legs on the way down? I don't think so".