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Catherine Shaw: British backpacker died from 'blow to the head'

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 13/3/2019 Bonnie Christian
a person posing for the camera in front of a mountain © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

British backpacker Catherine Shaw died from a “blow the head,” a post-mortem report has found.

The 23-year-old’s body was found on Monday near a Guatemala highland lake popular with travellers.

In a statement, the National Institute of Forensic Sciences of Guatemala said she had died four to six days earlier.

A doctor performing the examination said the body showed signs of trauma but no apparent gunshot or stab wounds.

"In the preliminary findings, there are no wounds from bullets or sharp weapons," Miguel Angel Samayoa told the Associated Press. "There are blows to the body."

a woman smiling for the camera: Catherine Shaw (AP) © Provided by Local News RSS EN-GB Catherine Shaw (AP)

Neither Dr Samayoa nor the institute said what might have caused the trauma.

Ms Shaw, from Witney, Oxfordshire, was reported missing after she left Hotel Mayachik near Lake Atitlan on March 5.

Her body was discovered unclothed and in a state of decomposition in undergrowth near a mountain overlook.

The Lucie Blackman Trust, which has been assisting Ms Shaw's family, issued a statement urging people not to speculate about her death and saying it may have been a "tragic accident" not involving foul play.

a house with trees in the background: The bungalow in the the hotel MayAchik' where late English tourist Catherine Shaw stayed stands in San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala. (AP) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited The bungalow in the the hotel MayAchik' where late English tourist Catherine Shaw stayed stands in San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala. (AP)

It added that Ms Shaw had been fasting for days before her disappearance and "disposing of possessions, including clothing".

"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," the statement added, cautioning that not all the facts were known and nothing could be ruled out.

"Catherine just loved mountains and sunrises," the family was quoted as saying. "She died doing what she loved."

The British Embassy confirmed that her father, Tarquin Shaw, had identified the body in Guatemala on Tuesday, and said it was working with local authorities and assisting the family.

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