New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern apologises to family of murdered British tourist Grace Millane
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has apologised to the family of murdered British tourist Grace Millane on behalf of the country.
- Jacinda Ardern tells Millane family “your daughter was supposed to be safe”
- A 26-year-old man accused of the killing appeared in court today
- The accused man’s name cannot be published because of suppression orders
During a post-cabinet address in Wellington, Ms Ardern said: “I cannot imagine the grief of her family and what they will be experiencing and feeling right now.
“My thoughts and prayers are with her father, David who is in the country, her mother who cannot be here and her wider family, friends and loved ones.
“From the Kiwis I have spoken to, there is this overwhelming sense of hurt and shame that this has happened in our country, a place that prides itself on our hospitality on our manakitanga [kindness, generosity, support and respect], especially to those who are visiting our shores.
“On behalf of New Zealand, I want to apologise to Grace’s family. Your daughter was supposed to be safe here and she wasn’t and I apologise for that,” Ms Ardern concluded, holding back tears.
The man accused of killing the 22-year-old woman has made his first appearance in a New Zealand court.
The 26-year-old stared at the ground while a judge addressed him during the brief appearance at the Auckland District Court.
The man has not yet entered a plea on murder charges and the court has temporarily blocked his name from being published.
Grace’s father, David Millane pleaded for people to come forward with any information. (ABC News)
Ms Millane’s father, David Millane, travelled to New Zealand last week after his daughter vanished, and Judge Evangelos Thomas addressed him and other family members.
“I don’t know what to say to you at this time, but your grief must be desperate,” he said, according to television station Three.
“We all hope justice will be fair and swift and ultimately bring you some peace.”
Described by her father as fun-loving and family-oriented, Ms Millane had been traveling in New Zealand as part of a planned yearlong trip abroad that began in Peru.
She went missing on December 1 and failed to get in touch with her family on her birthday the next day, or on the days that followed, which alarmed them.
Before she vanished, Ms Millane had been staying at a backpacker hostel in Auckland and left some of her belongings there.
Detective Inspector Scott Beard said she met a man for a couple of hours in the evening before surveillance cameras showed them entering the CityLife hotel about 9:40pm.
A photo Ms Millane posted to Facebook on November 29, 2018 — two days before she was last seen. (Facebook: Grace Millane)
A week after Ms Millane disappeared, police detained a man for questioning and later charged him with murder.
On Sunday, police found a body they believe is that of Ms Millane in a forested area about 10 metres from the side of the road in the Waitakere Ranges near Auckland.
Police believe Ms Millane’s body was taken to the area in a rental car that was later left in the town of Taupo.
The suspect’s lawyer, Ian Brookie, applied for name suppression on the basis his client needed it for a fair trial, an argument Judge Thomas rejected on the basis of open justice.
Mr Brookie appealed, triggering the man’s name to be temporarily suppressed.
The man is scheduled to make his next court appearance on January 23.