In Brief

Grace Millane trial: tears as man is convicted of murder

Unnamed 27-year-old found guilty of killing British backpacker

A 27-year-old man has been found guilty of the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane in New Zealand.

Millane, from Wickford, Essex, was strangled by the man she had met on dating site Tinder and with whom she spent several hours drinking in Auckland in December, 2018. Her body was found buried in a suitcase.

A jury of seven women and five men took five hours to unanimously agree that the accused, who cannot be named, was guilty of killing Millane.

Her parents, David and Gillian, cried in the public gallery as jurors announced their verdict. Afterwards, the grieving couple said the verdict would be “welcomed by every member of the family and friends of Grace”.

Speaking outside the court, David Millane said the family's lives had been “ripped apart” by his daughter's “barbaric” murder. “Grace was our sunshine and she will be missed forever,” he added.

The man convicted of the murder had alleged that the pair engaged in rough sexual intercourse involving biting and hitting. He told police that he then first fell asleep in the shower and later went to bed, but only discovered Millane’s body the following morning.

The 21-year-old arrived in New Zealand on 20 November 2018 from South America during a year-long trip around the world, after graduating from the University of Lincoln with a degree in advertising and marketing.

She was reported missing on 5 December by her family after failing to contact them on her birthday three days earlier.

Millane had last been seen on 1 December, when she met a “male companion” whom she had made contact with on Tinder. She was captured on CCTV visiting a number of bars in Auckland city centre with the man.

Prosecutors told the court that post-mortem examinations found bruises “consistent with restraint” on Millane’s body, and that she had been strangled.

On the night of her death, the court heard, the defendant “wasn't distressed or concerned by her death”, and that he “sexualised” the killing by taking lewd photos of her corpse.

The Guardian says that Millane's murder sparked public grief in New Zealand. The country's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern apologised to her family.

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