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Brit backpacker Catherine Shaw’s death could be ‘tragic accident’, say family

The death of British backpacker Catherine Shaw was likely a result of a "tragic accident", says a charity supporting her devastated family.

The Lucie Blackman Trust said it believes foul play was "probably not involved", disputing reports in Guatemala that the 23-year-old’s death was being investigated as a possible murder.

It said the nature lover had been fasting for days and disposing of possessions, including clothing, and it’s possible she went up the mountain to see the sunrise, "shedding clothing as she went", and passed out or fell due to a lack of food and fluid.

Miss Shaw’s naked body was found about 60ft from the summit of the Nariz del Indio mountain on Monday, bringing a tragic end to a week-long search.

Miss Shaw, 23, had been travelling in Guatemala for two weeks

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The British traveller, from Witney, Oxfordshire, was reported missing on March 5 after she left the Eco Hotel Mayachik in San Juan La Laguna and failed to return.

A search team found her body near the top of the popular Nariz del Indio, or Indian Nose, hiking trail, which overlooks Lake Atitlan, after finding trousers, a jacket and a stray puppy she was clutching when she left the hotel.

A police report said she was naked and she had injuries, el Periodico reported.

In a new statement, Miss Shaw’s parents, Ann and Tarquin, thanked the search and rescue teams, authorities and Miss Shaw’s friends.

The British woman’s jacket was found shortly before her body was discovered

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They said: "We wish it to be known how grateful our family are for the huge response locally and across the world in our search for Catherine and for the vast amount of messages of support. 

"Thank you seems insufficient but it is very heartfelt, so thank you.”

The Lucie Blackman Trust said speculation that Miss Shaw was raped and murdered, and distressing photos of her body which have been posted online, have added to the family’s grief.

Chief Executive Matthew Searle said: “Whilst we do not know the full facts yet this kind of speculation is incredibly unhelpful, distressing and unnecessary.

Police on the mountainside after the body was found

"The family deserve respect and time to come to terms with their tragic loss – not to have Catherine’s last hours dissected in such a graphic manner all over social media.

"Whilst there will always be discussion and comment, the conclusions being reached in this case are based on scant evidence and quite possibly ill informed.

"We ask that all such speculation ceases and that people wait for official enquiries to conclude.”

A statement added: "The charity believes that foul play was probably not involved and that Catherine’s death was a tragic accident."

Miss Shaw, from Witney, Oxfordshire, had also travelled to Mexico and California

Mr Searle said: “We know that Catherine had been fasting for the days leading to her disappearance and that she had been 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.

"Whilst of course at this stage we do not know the full facts, and cannot rule anything out until we do, it is wrong to assume and of course confirm that she was raped and murdered by a mystery assailant when such facts are not evident.

"Facebook posts analysing photographs of poor Catherine’s body are totally unacceptable.”

Miss Shaw’s family have been supported by the Lucie Blackman Trust

The Trust said it is working to have he images removed.

Miss Shaw’s parents added: “Catherine just loved mountains and sunrises. She died doing what she loved.

“We want to say how hugely indebted we are to The Lucie Blackman Trust, who have done everything possible.

"Their support has been fantastic throughout this tragic episode since the very first phone call.”

Miss Shaw disappeared just after 5am on March 5 after leaving Eco Hotel Mayachik clutching the puppy and leaving her mobile phone and passport behind in her room.

Miss Shaw’s body was found on a mountain known as Indian Nose

The dog was found alive on Friday, about 60ft from where Miss Shaw’s body was later found, said Amy Farrow, an American woman involved in the search.

Ms Farrow, who lives in the town where Miss Shaw was staying, said the body has been recovered by local authorities.

She wrote on Facebook : “We are deeply saddened that it turned into a body recovery mission instead of a rescue.

“When we set out to help find her we were hopeful to locate her alive.”

She said teams of volunteers, local authorities, a helicopter, drones and search dogs were involved in the effort.

Ms Farrow wrote: “As horrible as it was, we were also relieved to at least know where she was. She was about 60 feet down from where reports of the puppy was found (by the way, the baby girl pup is with us now thanks to our team tracking her down)."

The young woman had been missing for almost a week

She added: “Once the autopsy is conducted, we can determine if it was a fall or foul play.

“Given how concerned the locals and towns are it was very apparent this incident is pretty rare in beautiful #lagoatitlan.”

Miss Shaw had been travelling in Guatemala for two weeks, having previously been in Mexico and California, before she disappeared.

She was travelling with a friend, who woke up on the morning of March 5 to find that she was missing.

Before Miss Shaw’s body was found, her parents had said they were "desperately worried" and her disappearance was "unusually".

Friends had set up a Facebook page to help to coordinate the search efforts and raise funds to pay for a helicopter to join the hunt for her.

A post on Monday evening read: "Our diligent searchers have found Catherine Shaw’s body at the top of El Naudiz in San Juan La Laguna.

"The municipality, police, rescuers and volunteers have been searching the area since 8:30am this morning.

"We appreciate everyone’s effort and help in bringing resolution to the situation."

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