Man, 26, to be charged with murder of missing Grace
Body of British backpacker yet to be found but New Zealand police say there can be no doubt she is dead
A 26-year-old man will appear in court tomorrow charged with the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane in New Zealand.
Police have not yet found the body of the 22-year-old from Wickford in Essex, but detectives said they had evidence which pointed clearly to her death.
The suspect, who will appear at Auckland District Court, was arrested after he was traced to an address in central Auckland yesterday.
The arrest followed a review of CCTV footage, the forensic examination of a hotel where Ms Millane was last seen, and the discovery of a vehicle. She was last seen on the night of Saturday, Dec 1 entering the CityLife Hotel with a man.
Before the CityLife Hotel footage emerged, the last confirmed sighting of Ms Millane had been CCTV footage of her dressed for a night out as she left the Sky City casino complex at 7.15pm.
She was wearing a pink £5,000 prize draw wristband, suggesting she intended to return to the casino, just a few minutes from the hotel.
Police said they were still looking for Ms Millane, although evidence pointed to the fact that she had been killed.
A number of her belongings – including her passport, a silver necklace and pink watch – are missing, and police say they hope their discovery could help them find her body.
Ms Millane’s family are said to have been left bereft by the latest developments.
Auckland City Police Det Insp Scott Beard said: “Sadly the evidence we have gathered to this point in the inquiry has established that this is a homicide. Grace’s family have been advised of this development and they are devastated.”
Det Insp Beard added: “Obviously this means we are treating Grace’s disappearance as a homicide investigation. We still do not know where Grace is. We are determined to find her and return her to her family.”
David Millane, her father, arrived in New Zealand on Friday morning and fought back tears as he described his “lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, familyoriented daughter”.
He said she had always kept regularly in touch, and had typically “bombarded” the family with messages and photographs during her travels.
Ms Millane, who completed a degree in advertising and marketing at 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 on her 22nd birthday last Sunday.
Investigators have been examining the scene at the hotel complex where Ms Millane was last seen with a “male companion”. Searches have also been carried out at the backpackers’ accommodation where she was staying.
Earlier yesterday, police released images of her necklace and watch and urged anyone who recognised the items to come forward.
“Several of her belongings, including her passport, are missing and police believe it is likely that Grace has these items with her,” Det Insp Beard said.
On Friday Mr Millane 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.
Ms Millane was staying at the Base Backpackers hostel and was last seen there on Dec 1. Declan Millane, her brother, said most of her belongings had been left at the hostel.
‘We are all extremely upset and it’s difficult at this time to describe the emotions we are going through’
Grace Millane, 22, from Essex, was last seen on Dec 1 in Auckland, New Zealand. A 26-year-old man is to be charged with her death