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Family of British backpacker say their ‘whole world turned upside down’



The family of a murdered British backpacker have said their “whole world turned upside down” after the 22-year-old’s death.

Grace Millane’s body has been formally identified and returned to her family, police in New Zealand said.

The University of Lincoln graduate from Essex went missing from a hostel in Auckland on 1 December and her body was found in the Waitakere Ranges on Sunday.

In a statement issued through police, her father David Millane and family said: “Grace went off to travel the world in mid-October and arrived in New Zealand on the 20th November.

“By the amount of pictures and messages we received, she clearly loved this country, its people and the lifestyle.

“After the disappearance of Grace on 1st December 2018 our whole world turned upside down.

“We all hope that what has happened to Grace will not deter even one person from venturing out into the world and discovering their own OE (overseas experience).

Grace Millane was last seen at the CityLife hotel in Auckland
Grace Millane’s body has been returned to her family

“We would like to thank the people of New Zealand for their outpouring of love, numerous messages, tributes and compassion.

“Grace was not born here and only managed to stay a few weeks, but you have taken her to your hearts and in some small way she will forever be a Kiwi.”

Ms Millane’s body will be brought home to the UK by her father and his brother Martin this weekend.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said: “Grace has been returned to her family and they are in the process of organising to take her home in the next few days.

“Work continues to piece together exactly what happened to Grace, as we build a timeline of the circumstances.”

He said earlier that officers were looking for a long-handle shovel connected to the case.

A shovel police are looking for in connection with the murder of Grace Millane in New Zealand
A shovel police are looking for in connection with the murder of Grace Millane in New Zealand

A 26-year-old man has been charged with murder and appeared in an Auckland court on Monday.

Police said they received “hundreds” of calls about the case and investigators are trying to establish a timeline of events.

New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern issued an emotional apology to Ms Millane’s family.

She said: “Your daughter should have been safe here, and she wasn’t, and I’m sorry for that.”

“I cannot imagine the grief of her family and what they would be experiencing and feeling right now.”

The man charged with Ms Millane’s murder cannot be named for legal reasons and New Zealand’s justice minister Andrew Little has criticised some British media for publishing his identity.


New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern apologises for the killing of British backpacker Grace Millane.

“The international media, particularly the British media are not helping the Millane family,” Mr Little said.

The suspect is in custody and is yet to enter a plea to the charge of murdering Ms Millane between 1 and 2 December.

Ms Millane’s death comes just weeks after she had left her home in Wickford, Essex, to see the world.

After more than a month in South America, Ms Millane had arrived in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, on 20 November.

She was last seen entering a central city hotel with a man more than a week ago and police were called after her regular pattern of communication with family was stopped.

Ms Millane’s father David travelled to New Zealand and attended the suspect’s court appearance with other family members.

Her brother, Declan Millane, paid tribute by sharing pictures on social media of him and his sister along with the lyrics of You Are My Sunshine.

He wrote on Instagram: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.”

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