Death of Grace Millane
Grace Emmie Rose Millane was a 22-year-old English tourist whose disappearance in Auckland, New Zealand, in December 2018 sparked international attention. A 26-year-old man was charged with her murder on 8 December, and her body was found in the nearby Waitakere Ranges the following day. As of November 2019, the case is currently before the High Court in Auckland.
Background and disappearance
Millane was from Wickford, Essex. She had recently graduated from the University of Lincoln with a bachelor's degree in advertising and marketing, and was on a backpacking tour during her gap year.
Millane was on a two-week stay in New Zealand after spending six weeks in South America. She entered New Zealand on 20 November 2018 and travelled around the upper North Island. She arrived in Auckland on 30 November. At 9:00 pm on 1 December, she was seen on Victoria Street in Auckland's central business district, and 15 minutes later she was seen via CCTV at SkyCity. She was last seen at 9:41 pm at the CityLife Hotel on Queen Street with a man who has since been charged with her murder. It was widely reported that the pair had arranged to meet via a dating app but police did not comment further on this matter.
Millane's parents became concerned after she did not reply to birthday wishes they sent her on 2 December and police started investigating after she was reported missing by her parents three days later. The hotel she was staying at reported that she did not go back to her room on the night of her disappearance.
Police initially said that there was "no evidence of foul play", but later gathered evidence that she was "no longer alive". Police announced on 8 December that they were treating the case as a homicide investigation, and a 26-year-old man was subsequently charged with her murder.
Her body was found on 9 December at around 4 pm, off Scenic Drive in the Waitakere Ranges around 19 km (12 mi) west of central Auckland. A post-mortem examination was done on 10 December, but the results are yet to be announced. Further investigations of the area where Millane was found were carried out on 11 December. Police asked for the public's help in finding a shovel they believed was related to the inquiry. A shovel fitting the police description was found on 13 December. Police also requested public help tracing the movements of a 2016 Toyota Corolla rental car that the accused leased between 2 and 3 December. The car had subsequently been re-leased and was located on 8 December in Taupo, 275 km (171 mi) south of Auckland.
A 26-year-old man was taken into custody on 8 December at 3 pm. The man had been staying at the CityLife Hotel in central Auckland. He appeared in the Auckland District Court on 10 December 2018, charged with murdering Millane.
During the initial appearance, he was denied name suppression, but this was appealed against by the defence, automatically triggering interim name suppression for a period of 20 working days.[a] Name suppression prohibits the publishing of his name or identification details.:200 Breach of name suppression is a contempt of court, which carries a penalty of up to 6 months imprisonment for an individual or up to a NZ$100,000 fine for a corporation. As contempt of court is not an extraditable offence, the suppression order cannot be enforced against international media outlets, and several outlets, particularly in the United Kingdom, chose to publish his name. Google included the man's name in an email it sent to subscribers of its newsletter on trending topics in New Zealand, which claimed that 100,000 searches had been done of the name within the country. Justice Minister Andrew Little and the New Zealand Bar Association criticised the foreign media, saying the publication of the accused's name endangered the right to a fair trial.
He was remanded in custody and appeared in the Auckland High Court on 16 January 2019 where he pleaded not guilty. His identity remained suppressed pending an appeal. The appeal was heard at the High Court on 7 February; the judge reserved his decision, meaning the order remains in force for the time being. His trial began on 4 November 2019 with the selection of the jury. He reaffirmed his earlier not guilty plea, and proceedings are expected to last five weeks.
Millane's death generated an unprecedented reaction from the New Zealand public. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a public apology to the family of Millane on 10 December, saying "on behalf of New Zealand, I want to apologise. Your daughter should have been safe here, and she wasn't". During the press conference she appeared to be close to tears.
Auckland's Sky Tower and Harbour Bridge were lit up in a white ribbon shape from 10 to 13 December to mark her death. Candlelight vigils were held on 11–12 December at several locations around New Zealand.
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