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

The Sunday Telegraph - - World news - By Pa­trick Sawer

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

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