Hun­dreds farewell Grace in home­town

Hawke's Bay Today - - Nation -

Grace Mil­lane, the Bri­tish back­packer who was trav­el­ling the world when she was mur­dered in New Zealand, has been farewelled, with mourn­ers singing Amaz­ing Grace at her fu­neral ser­vice.

Friends and fam­ily and mourn­ers num­bered in the hun­dreds gath­ered at Brent­wood Cathe­dral in Brent­wood, Es­sex, at 11.30am lo­cal time on Thurs­day be­fore the burial in her home­town of Rams­den Bell­house.

The 22-year-old was on the trip of a life­time and had only been in New Zealand just over a week when she dis­ap­peared.

A week later, on De­cem­ber 9, her body was found in the Waitakere Ranges, 10 me­tres off Scenic Drive in thick bush­land.

It was dev­as­tat­ing news for not only Mil­lane’s friends and fam­ily but for the na­tion who be­came en­veloped in the dis­ap­pear­ance case.

Her cof­fin was car­ried into the cathe­dral by six pall­bear­ers, in­clud­ing her brothers Michael and De­clan and her fa­ther, BBC re­ports.

Grace’s fa­ther, David Mil­lane, was vis­i­bly dis­traught dur­ing the pro­ces­sion and gave an emo­tional eu­logy.

Michael and De­clan read the poem Un­til We Meet Again.

It be­gins: “Each morn­ing when we awake, we know that you are gone, and no one knows the heartache, as we try to carry on”.

Fa­ther John Cor­byn, who led the Mass, said after the ser­vice that the Mil­lanes were “a very strong fam­ily”.

“You can per­ceive a great deal of love and bond­ing and strength within that fam­ily, and they have many friends who will, I be­lieve, help them.”

Late last year, thou­sands of peo­ple turned out to vig­ils held through­out New Zealand after the death.

Mil­lane was last seen on De­cem­ber 1 when she was caught on CCTV en­ter­ing Ci­tyLife Ho­tel with the man ac­cused of mur­der­ing her.

The 26-year-old was ar­rested and ap­peared in the Auck­land Dis­trict Court last month and will reap­pear in the Auck­land High Court on Jan­uary 23.

He was granted in­terim name sup­pres­sion after his lawyer made an ap­peal, spark­ing a world­wide out­cry against the de­ci­sion.

Po­lice de­clined to com­ment on whether any rep­re­sen­ta­tives would at­tend the fu­neral.

Mil­lane’s fa­ther and un­cle trav­elled to New Zealand to help find her.

Shortly after ar­rest­ing the man, po­lice also made an ap­peal for the sight­ing of a 2016 red Toy­ota Corolla hatch­back. The car was rented and re­turned to an Auck­land rental car firm after her death.

Po­lice said the ve­hi­cle was lo­cated in Taupo¯ but not driven there by her al­leged killer.

In a heart­felt state­ment, David Mil­lane said his daugh­ter would “for­ever be a Kiwi”.

“Grace went off to travel the world in mid-Oc­to­ber and ar­rived in New Zealand on the 20th Novem­ber,” he said.

“By the amount of pic­tures and mes­sages we re­ceived she clearly loved this coun­try, its peo­ple and the life­style . . . After the dis­ap­pear­ance of Grace on 1st De­cem­ber 2018 our whole world turned up­side down . . . we would like to thank the peo­ple of New Zealand for their out­pour­ing of love, nu­mer­ous mes­sages, trib­utes and com­pas­sion.

“Grace was not born here [New Zealand] and only man­aged to stay a few weeks, but you have taken her to your hearts and in some small way she will for­ever be a Kiwi.”

PHOTO / ECHO

The fu­neral for mur­dered back­packer Grace Mil­lane took place at Brent­wood Cathe­dral in Es­sex.

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