Missing British backpacker’s cause of death confirmed

British backpacker Catherine Shaw’s caught of death has been confirmed.

Authorities in Guatemala where she was found dead said the 23-year-old suffered from a traumatic brain injury.

Investigators say she may have lay undiscovered for four to six days after plunging to her death in a mountainous region.

Miss Shaw, from Witnety, Oxfordshire, was last seen on March 5 when she left her hotel near Lake Atitlan.

Her body was discovered on Monday around 60ft from the peak of a hiking trail.

She had been reported missing from her hotel in the village of San Juan La Laguna.

The Lucy Blackman Trust, a missing person’s charity that has been helping Miss Shaw’s family, says it is unlikely foul play was involved.

According to Venezuelan news site noticias24.com, a post-mortem exam found she suffered from a "subarachnoid hemorrhage derived from a cranioencephalic trauma" – a form of brain trauma.

The media outlet also said Guatemala’s National Institute of Forensic Sciences had estimated she was dead for four to six days before she was found.

Her family earlier rubbished local media reports the backpacker had been raped before she was killed, as her body was found naked.

The Lucy Blackman Trust said she been fasting when she appeared to have stripped off for a walk to watch the sunset.

A statement from the trust on behalf of the former yoga teacher said: “She was very much a nature lover and adored sunrises, so it seems quite conceivable that she went up the mountain to greet the sunrise, shedding clothing as she went, and due to her lack of intake of food and fluid may have passed out or fallen, causing the wounds to her body."

Miss Shaw was discovered in a cavern close to the trail, two miles from her hostel.

A search party located her body after a stray puppy she had carried with her was found close by.

Guatemala’s Interior Ministry said in a statement immediately after Catherine’s body was found: “After several days of intense searching by police authorities, other institutions and volunteers for the missing British national, participating teams are being coordinated at the scene where her body has been found.

“After 120 hours of an exhaustive search, the result is very regrettable and the Interior Ministry and police chiefs have immediately designated a team which will carry out the criminal investigation.

“This is to determine what has happened and who could be involved in this deplorable incident.”

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