Miss­ing back­packer last seen at night with man at city ho­tel

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Jonathan Pearl­man in Syd­ney

PO­LICE in New Zealand have re­vealed that a miss­ing Bri­tish back­packer was seen with a man at a four-star ho­tel on the night she dis­ap­peared, as her fa­ther flew to Auck­land and is­sued an emo­tional ap­peal for in­for­ma­tion.

Grace Mil­lane, a 22-year-old from Es­sex, was last seen on Satur­day night en­ter­ing the Citylife Ho­tel at 9.41pm with a man, who has been in­ter­viewed by po­lice. A search of a room at the ho­tel is un­der way.

David Mil­lane, her fa­ther, ar­rived in New Zealand yesterday morn­ing and fought back tears as he de­scribed his “lovely, out­go­ing, fun-lov­ing, fam­i­ly­ori­ented daugh­ter”. He said she typ­i­cally “bom­barded” the fam­ily with mes­sages and pho­to­graphs.

“Grace has never been out of con­tact for this amount of time,” he said. “She’s usu­ally in daily con­tact with ei­ther her mother, my­self, her two broth­ers, or mem­bers of the fam­ily on so­cial me­dia … As a fam­ily, we’ve been ex­tremely con­cerned about her wel­fare.”

Miss Mil­lane, who has a de­gree in advertising and mar­ket­ing from Lin­coln Univer­sity, was on a year-long trip and ar­rived in New Zealand on Nov 20 af­ter a four-week group tour to Peru.

Her fam­ily raised con­cerns af­ter she failed to make con­tact for sev­eral days, in­clud­ing her 22nd birth­day last Sun­day.

Mr Mil­lane, a prop­erty de­vel­oper, ap­pealed to any­body who had seen or spo­ken to his daugh­ter to pro­vide de­tails – “no mat­ter how small” – to po­lice.

“We are all ex­tremely up­set, and it’s very dif­fi­cult at this time to fully de­scribe the range of emo­tions we are go­ing through,” he said.

Re­veal­ing the new leads, Det Insp Scott Beard said: “It has now been six days since Grace was last seen. At this point, we hold grave fears for her safety.”

How­ever, of­fi­cers had yet to find any ev­i­dence of foul play, he added. The man be­ing ques­tioned, a New Zealand res­i­dent, is a per­son of in­ter­est but has not been ar­rested.

“The in­ves­ti­ga­tion [is] pro­gress­ing rapidly,” DI Beard said.

“I un­der­stand there will be lots of ques­tions about what we are do­ing at

‘Grace has never been out of con­tact for this amount of time … As a fam­ily, we’ve been ex­tremely con­cerned about her wel­fare’

the Citylife and ex­actly why we are there. How­ever, this is an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion and I am not able to dis­cuss this as­pect fur­ther at this point in time.”

Miss Mil­lane was stay­ing at the Base Back­pack­ers hos­tel and was last seen by her room-mates there on Satur­day. De­clan Mil­lane, her brother, said most of her be­long­ings had been left at the hos­tel.

Det Insp Beard said that po­lice were await­ing in­for­ma­tion from Bri­tish banks about Miss Mil­lane’s credit card use.

He said a team of 25 of­fi­cers were work­ing on the case and were scour­ing footage from se­cu­rity cam­eras across Auck­land which had helped to track her move­ments. The Mil­lanes have set up a Face­book page – Help Find Grace – to ap­peal for in­for­ma­tion.

This week­end prayers are to be said for the miss­ing woman at Our Lady of Good Coun­sel Ro­man Catholic church in Wick­ford, where she lives with her fam­ily.

The For­eign Of­fice said it was pro­vid­ing sup­port to Auck­land po­lice.

Grace Mil­lane, 22, above, and in CCTV footage is­sued by Auck­land po­lice, above left. In­set, her fa­ther, David

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