Grace Millane: 26-year-old man to be charged with British backpacker’s murder

A 26-year-old man is to be charged with the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane, police in New Zealand have announced.

Police have not yet found the body of the 22-year-old from Essex – last seen in Auckland on 1 December – but Detective Inspector Scott Beard said evidence indicated she had been killed.

Ms Millane’s family have been left “devastated” by the news, said Det Insp Beard.

“The evidence we have located so far, our scene examination, some of the CCTV footage we have, and our investigation, has determined that Grace is no longer alive and that this is a murder investigation,” he said.

“Grace’s family have been advised of this development and they are devastated.”

New Zealand Police said the murder suspect will remain in custody until Monday morning, when he will appear in the Auckland District Court.

Ms Millane was described as a “lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-orientated daughter” by her father, David Millane.

She graduated from the University of Lincoln in September and had embarked on a year-long worldwide trip.

After visiting Peru she arrived in New Zealand on November 20 and had been almost daily contact with her family until December 1 – the day before her 22nd birthday.

The last confirmed sighting of Ms Millane was at 9.41pm the same day at the Citylife Hotel in central Auckland, when she was seen with a “male companion”.

Det Insp Beard confirmed that the man taken into custody by police on Saturday was the same individual.

Police have not uncovered any evidence the pair had met before. Asked if they had met on the Tinder dating app, the detective said: “I’m not going to speculate on how they met. The issue here is Grace is still missing and we want to find her.”

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Detectives also seized a “vehicle of interest” on Saturday. Earlier searches of Ms Millane’s accommodation at a backpackers’ hostel found several items, including her passport, were missing.

On Saturday police released images of a pink watch and a necklace belonging to her and asked for the public’s help in finding them.

The major police search and public campaign for information led to dozens of calls being made to a hotline.

“We still do not know where Grace is. We are determined to find her and return her to her family,” said Det Insp Beard.

“I want to reassure everyone, both here and abroad, that New Zealand Police are determined to do everything we can to find her.”

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