Accused backpacker murderer faces New Zealand court

Published December 10, 2018, 10:36 AM

by AJ Siytangco

By Agence France-Presse

A man accused of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane appeared in a New Zealand court Monday as a judge told her family “your grief must be desperate”.

Grace Millane (Lucie Blackman Trust via Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)
Grace Millane
(Lucie Blackman Trust via Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

Millane disappeared on December 1, on the eve of her 22nd birthday, and police found her body on Sunday in parkland just outside Auckland.

A 26-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, faced Auckland District Court on Monday charged with her murder.

Wearing a blue prison-issue boiler suit, he was not required to enter a plea and was remanded in custody until January 23.

Millane was on a year-long worldwide holiday after graduating from university and had been in New Zealand for two weeks after traveling around South America for more than a month.

It was her first solo overseas trip and her family became alarmed when she failed to maintain her habit of staying in daily contact.

Police had previously said she was last seen alive entering an inner-city hotel in Auckland with a man.

Her father David flew to New Zealand after she went missing and issued emotional appeal for information relating to his “fun-loving, outgoing and family-orientated” daughter.

Judge Evangelos Thomas opened Monday’s brief court proceedings by addressing the family, Radio New Zealand reported.

“I do not know what to say to you, your grief must be desperate,” he said.

“All of us hope justice is fair and swift and ultimately brings you some peace.”

The death has shocked New Zealand, which is usually regarded as a safe place to travel and averages less than 50 homicides a year in a population of 4.8 million.