Monday 22 July 2019

Man denies murder of British backpacker Grace Millane

The 27-year-old is due to face trial in November.

Ms Millane (22) died while travelling in New Zealand and her body was found in bushland on Sunday afternoon, about 30 feet from a highway outside the New Zealand city. Photo: Lucie Blackman Trust /PA Wire
Ms Millane (22) died while travelling in New Zealand and her body was found in bushland on Sunday afternoon, about 30 feet from a highway outside the New Zealand city. Photo: Lucie Blackman Trust /PA Wire
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A man has denied murdering British backpacker Grace Millane in New Zealand.

The 27-year-old pleaded not guilty to her murder during an appearance at the High Court in Auckland on Wednesday.

The man is due to face trial at the court on November 4.

Ms Millane, 22, from Wickford, Essex, was on a round-the-world backpacking trip when she arrived in New Zealand in November.

She was reported missing on December 5 after her family grew concerned that she had not responded to messages sent on her birthday, December 2.

The last confirmed sighting of Ms Millane was at 9.41pm the night before at the Citylife Hotel in central Auckland.

Her body was found by detectives near a road in the Waitakere Ranges, a scenic area around 12 miles west of Auckland city centre, on December 9.

An order suppressing the name of the defendant is expected to be reviewed at the end of January.

Grace Millane, 22, who is missing in New Zealand. Photo: Auckland City Police/PA Wire.
Grace Millane, 22, who is missing in New Zealand. Photo: Auckland City Police/PA Wire.

In a statement after her death, Ms Millane's family said their "whole world" had been turned upside down.

Her family said: “Grace went off to travel the world in mid-October and arrived in New Zealand on the 20th November.

“By the amount of pictures and messages we received, she clearly loved this country, its people and the lifestyle.

“We all hope that what has happened to Grace will not deter even one person from venturing out into the world and discovering their own OE (overseas experience).”

Police initially launched a missing person inquiry for the University of Lincoln graduate after her parents became concerned that she did not reply to birthday wishes sent on December 2.

Since arriving in New Zealand from Peru on November 20, she had been in near-daily contact with her family, officers said.

The last confirmed sighting of Ms Millane, from Essex, was at 9.41pm on December 1, at the Citylife Hotel, when she was seen with a “male companion”.

A week later, on December 8, police said they were treating the case as a homicide investigation and a day later a body was found in the Waitakere Ranges 10 metres away from the road.

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