New Zealand killer of British backpacker handed life sentence

Grace was strangled on her 22nd birthday

Friday, February 21, 2020

The New Zealand man convicted of murdering British backpacker has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.

Grace Millane was strangled to death on her 22nd birthday in December 2018.

The 28-year-old killer cannot be named because of a legal restriction that is sometimes imposed in the New Zealand judicial system.

She had met him on a dating app and the pair had gone out for drinks before returning to his hotel apartment in central Auckland, where he killed her.

He then put her body into a suitcase, drove to a forest and buried it in a shallow grave – police found it a week later.

Hundreds attended vigils in New Zealand after Grace's murder

Defence lawyers had claimed the death was accidental after the pair engaged in consensual sex that went too far but the jury rejected the argument in November and found the man guilty.

Grace’s mother, Gillian Millane, told her daughter’s killer he had “ripped a hole” in her heart as she addressed him via video-link in the Auckland court.

She said: “Her tragic life, cut short by your wilful, cruel actions.

“You took it upon yourself to murder my beautiful Grace, an innocent young lady.

“On a daily basis, I torment myself over what you did to my Grace.

“The terror and pain, she must have experienced at your hands.”

Parents David and Gillian Millane outside Auckland High Court at the November hearing

A local newspaper reported that the man in the dock kept his head bowed, rubbed his face and had his eyes closed as she made the statement.

Mrs Millane added: “She died terrified and alone in a room with you.

“You have ripped a hole in my heart, one that will never be repaired.”

The murder sent shockwaves with hundreds of people attended candlelight vigils to pay tribute to Grace.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke about New Zealanders feeling "hurt and shame" that she was killed in their country.

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