Backpacker Grace’s alleged killer to front court
A MAN accused of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane in New Zealand last month is expected to face court today.
The 26-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, will make his first appearance in the high court of Auckland.
Ms Millane was reported missing by her family in early December after she was last seen on December 1, the day before her 22nd birthday.
A police investigation was launched and a week later, officers found her body at a remote location in the Wāitakere Ranges on the outskirts of Auckland.
The 26-year-old was charged with murder following the discovery and appeared at the Auckland District Court on December 10, where he was granted interim name suppression.
As reported by Stuff NZ, Judge Evangelos Thomas refused to give the accused name suppression at his first court appearance. However, it was automatically granted after his lawyer Ian Brookie signalled an appeal.
The father of one was described as "a very confused man" by his grandmother, who spoke to MailOnline during his December appearance in court.
Ms Millane, from Essex in southeast England, graduated with a marketing degree from the University of Lincoln in September and set out on the "trip of a lifetime" on October 26.
The outgoing former student spent six weeks in South America as part of a gap year. She then arrived in New Zealand alone on November 19 and was allegedly last seen alive in the company of a man on Saturday, December 1.
Ms Millane travelled to the North Island city in late November but alarms bells rang when she failed to respond to birthday well-wishes on her 22nd birthday on December 2.
She had been staying at the $18-a-night Base Backpackers on Queen Street in the centre of the city, a popular location for travellers.
Her parents were left baffled after they lost contact with their daughter, describing her silence as "completely out of character".
Ms Millane's father flew to New Zealand and was there when police discovered his daughter's body on 8 December.
It later emerged that just 11 minutes before she was last seen alive, a Facebook user alleged to be the accused man left a chilling comment on the talented artist's Facebook profile picture, writing "beautiful very radiant" with an upside-down smiley face emoji. The comment was later deleted.
Hundreds of mourners gathered at Brentwood Cathedral near her family home in Essex on January 10 for the funeral service.
Writing on social media ahead of the funeral, her brother Declan described it as "Grace's Day".
The pages of the order of service were decorated with some of the paintings that the keen artist had created.