‘Your grief must be desperate’: Judge’s words to father of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane as relatives sit yards from man, 26, accused of killing her during suspect’s first court appearance
- The body of Grace Millane, 22, was found by police outside Auckland Sunday
- A 26-year-old man was arrested and charged with her murder earlier this week
- He is set to be identified on Monday morning as he appears in an Auckland court
- Court documents revealed he and Grace had been staying at the same hotel
The body of Grace Millane, 22, was discovered on Sunday as police earlier arrested a 26-ear-old suspect
A New Zealand judge paid emotional tribute to family of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane on Monday – as her father and uncle appeared in court alongside her suspected killer.
Judge Evangelos Thomas told Millane’s family members in court on Monday: ‘I don’t know what to say to you at this time, but your grief must be desperate.’
‘We all hope justice will be fair and swift and ultimately brings you some peace.’
The as-yet-unnamed New Zealand resident, charged earlier this week with the 22-year-old’s murder also appeared in court in Auckland on Monday.
The unnamed suspect was revealed to be staying at the same hotel she disappeared from – court documents seen by Sky News showed.
Grace, 22, from Essex, was last seen with the man at the CityLife hotel in Auckland at about 9.40pm on December 1 – where they were both staying.
Grace’s body was discovered by New Zealand police on Sunday morning after a nationwide search and international outcry over her disappearance.
Grace Millane (right) pictured with her two brothers, mother and property developer father
The scene where the body of British tourist Grace Millane was found by New Zealand police in the Waitakere Ranges outside Auckland
It remains unclear how the pair met or what the possible motive for the killing might be.
Police took the 26-year-old suspect into custody earlier this week and have charged him with Grace’s murder.
The man’s name has been withheld for the moment by order of the country’s courts and he has been described only as a New Zealand resident.
Detective Inspector Scott Beard said her body was found near Scenic Drive, which leads through the Waitakere Ranges, a popular parkland west of Auckland.
Grace’s body was found about 10 metres from the side of the road, hidden in bushland, and is believed to have been taken there in a rental car that was recently found nearly 300 kilometres (186 miles) away in Taupo.
Det Insp Beard said investigators had ‘located a body which we believe to be Grace’.
Detective Inspector Scott Beard said despite the fact formal identification hasn’t yet taken place they believe it is the body of Grace
‘The formal identification process will now take place, however based on the evidence we have gathered over the past few days we expect that this is Grace,’ he said at a press conference near the scene.
‘Obviously this brings the search for Grace to an end. It is an unbearable time for the Millane family and our hearts go out to them.’
Ms Millane, from Essex, graduated from university in September and had embarked on a year-long worldwide trip.
After visiting Peru she arrived in New Zealand on November 20 and had been ‘bombarding’ her family with photos as she kept in near-daily contact with her parents and brothers via social media.
Her father, David Millane, said they last had contact on the day she vanished.
Police said they had received dozens of calls to a hotline and more than 25 staff were working on the case, trawling through hours of CCTV footage to trace her movements.
Her brother also posted a heartfelt tribute to his sister on Sunday as news broke of the discovery of her body.
Declan Millane, wrote out the lyrics to You Are My Sunshine, as police confirmed their worst fears.
Friends and relatives, including Grace’s brother Declan (pictured here with his sister), shared heartwarming tributes as news broke that her body had been discovered
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