Grace Millane's mother tells killer her daughter died 'terrified and alone'

21 February 2020, 17:08

By Maddie Goodfellow

The mother of murdered backpacker Grace Millane told her killer she is tormented over "the terror and pain she must have experienced at your hands".

A 28-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, strangled Ms Millane in a hotel in Auckland after meeting her via Tinder on December 1, 2018 - the day before her 22 birthday.

Her body was later found buried in a suitcase in a forested area outside the city in New Zealand.

Gillian Millane told the killer she died "terrified and alone in a room with you".

Speaking via videolink at Auckland High Court, Mrs Millane said: "As a mother I would have done anything to change places with her.

Grace Millane was murdered whilst travelling in New Zealand
Grace Millane was murdered whilst travelling in New Zealand. Picture: PA

"I sit full of guilt knowing I couldn't help her, that I should have been there.

"Your barbaric actions towards my Grace is beyond comprehension."

The killer was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum sentence of 17 years at Auckland Crown Court.

Grace's mother, Gillian told the killer she considered taking her own life when she found out about Grace's death.

"Grace wasn't just my daughter. She was my friend. My very best friend," she said.

"I am absolutely heartbroken that you have taken my daughter's future and robbed us of so many memories that we were going to create.

"The tears I shed are never-ending at the thought of never having the chance to kiss my Grace goodbye."

Her daughter's murderer sat with his head in his hands as the statements were read out.

Grace was killed by a man she met on a dating site
Grace was killed by a man she met on a dating site. Picture: PA

Miss Millane’s parents David and Gillian said the sentencing would not give closure to the family.

Mrs Millane took the time in court to speak about the struggles the whole family have faced since Grace's death.

She said they had been "incapacitated with grief", making them unable to get out of bed, leave the house, or even listen to the radio.

Grace, from Wickford in Essex, was strangled by the man, who she met on a dating site on 1 December 2018.

The two went on a date in the centre of Auckland and spent several hours drinking together.

When they returned to his hotel, the man killed her, before disposing of her body in a suitcase in the Waitākere Ranges, a mountainous area outside the city.

Grace Millane died in a hotel in Auckland
Grace Millane died in a hotel in Auckland. Picture: PA

The crown prosecutor Brian Dickey said the man's crime had been “personalised, depraved and callous” and had greatly impacted n how safe young women feel in New Zealand.

Ian Brookie, the man’s defence counsel, argued that the man had no previous convictions, was young and could be rehabilitated with a shorter sentence of ten years.

Brookie also said the man was isolated from his Māori culture, estranged from his family and had a “traumatic” childhood and upbringing.

Sentencing, Justice Simon Moore described his actions after the killing, which included watching pornography, taking photographs of her naked body and going on a date with another woman, as "conduct that underscores a lack of empathy and sense of self-entitlement and objectification".

“Manual strangulation is a particularly intimate form of violence, cold-blooded,” he continued.

“Your actions reveal a complete disregard for your victim.

“You didn’t ring an ambulance, or call the police, instead you embarked on a well-planned and sustained and co-ordinated course of action to conceal any evidence of what had occurred in your room”.

Grace Millane's death shocked many in New Zealand, which prides itself on welcoming tourists and where many people travel abroad themselves.

Hundreds of people attended candlelight vigils after she died, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke about New Zealanders feeling "hurt and shame" that she was killed in their country.