Alleged killer enraged nation can’t name
ALMOST everyone in New Zealand is talking about the death for a vibrant young backpacker who mysteriously vanished the day before her 22nd birthday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has now even made a national apology over the tragic loss of Grace Millane - a talented young artist from England's south west, who was soaking in the world on the second leg of her round-the-world trip when she was killed.
However, one court decision, which means her alleged killer cannot be named has sparked fury.
Police in New Zealand have been forced to issue a warning that they will crack down on any attempts to name the accused killer - a 26-year-old man she was last seen with - after he was granted interim suppression order in court yesterday.
"We would like to remind the public that while we appreciate the public feeling around this case, it is an offence to breach a court order such as a name suppression, and this includes naming someone who has name suppression on social media," Detective Inspector Scott Beard told reporters yesterday.
Ms Millane's body was found by police on the outskirts of Auckland on Sunday after she went missing in the city on December 1, less than two weeks after she landed in the capital, alone, less than two weeks before.
She mysteriously vanished having been seen for the last time at a CityLife Hotel in Auckland with a "male companion" - who is understood to have been on a Tinder date.
Court documents say the accused is a resident at the CityLife on Queen Street and is charged with killing the tourist between December 1 and 2
Disturbingly, it has emerged that, just 11 minutes before she was last seen alive, the alleged killer left a chilling comment on Ms Millane's Facebook profile picture, writing "beautiful very radiant" with an upside-down smiley face emoji. The comment has since been deleted.
A woman who was supposed to have met up with the alleged killer via Tinder after talking to him for several months has spoken to media in New Zealand - saying she was too busy to meet him.
"Obviously angels were watching over me," the unnamed woman told Stuff, adding that she thought she had been talking to a "decent guy".
"At the time it was just legitimately all normal," she said. "The only weird thing I thought about him was that he asked me for feet photos and of me with my high heels on."
Responding to the tragedy, Prime Minister Ardern held back the tears as she spoke of New Zealand's "collective shame".
"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 … especially to those who are visiting our shores," she said.
"On behalf of New Zealand, I want to apologise to Grace's family. Your daughter should have been safe here and she wasn't and I'm sorry for that."
The government had offered its support to the Millane family, Ms Ardern said.
"I cannot imagine the grief of her family and what they will be experiencing."
Her sentiment echoed widespread shock among much of the public in New Zealand.
Candlelight vigils were on Monday being planned around the country during the weekend the operators of the Sky Tower - the most distinctive building in Auckland's skyline - said it would be lit in white until Thursday night as a tribute.
The Millane family were grateful and gave their blessing for the planned events, but would not be attending, police said in a statement.
Tourism New Zealand, which described the death as "unimaginable", meanwhile said travellers would be left concerned about what is usually considered a safe destination.
While killings by strangers are uncommon in New Zealand and the yearly number of homicides has been fewer than 50 since 2010, a number of women visiting the country have been killed in recent decades.
Ms Millane's accused murderer appeared in Auckland District Court yesterday, where he was called a "scumbag" from the public gallery as he appeared wearing a blue boiler suit.
According to the New Zealand Herald, Judge Evangelos Thomas started the hearing by addressing the family.
"All of us hope that justice for Grace is fair and swift and ultimately brings you some peace," he said at the outset of the hearing," Judge Thomas said.
"That will not be happening today. There will be no judgment today."
The accused will return to a higher court next year.
Police on Monday evening said a post-mortem had been carried out but declined to comment on the results.
Their examination of dense bush where Ms Millane's body was found is ongoing and officers were still appealing for witnesses near the scene.
It came after a major hunt for answers which brought her father David to New Zealand to help with the search.
On Friday, he made an emotional public appeal for help in finding his daughter, who he described as a "lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-orientated daughter".
Alarm bells started ringing when she stopped contacting family and friends - who she had been in touch with nearly daily until her disappearance.
Responding to the tragic news, her heartbroken brother Declan Millane wrote out the lyrics to You Are My Sunshine, along with a series of pictures of them both.
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey," he wrote.
"You'll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away."