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  1. ITV Report

Man in court charged with murder of British backpacker Grace Millane

A man has appeared in court in New Zealand charged with the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane.

A judge in Auckland ruled in accordance with the country's law that the 26-year-old man cannot be named until the trial begins.

At the beginning of the hearing, the judge directly addressed members of Ms Millane's family who were in court, telling them: "Your grief must be desperate and we hope that justice will be fair and swift and ultimately bring you some peace."

The court appearance comes the day after the 22-year-old's body was found on the outskirts of the city.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard, of Auckland City Police, said formal identification was yet to take place, although “based on the evidence we have gathered over the past few days we expect that this is Grace”.

Following the news of Ms Millane's murder, her brother Declan took to Instagram to share pictures of him and his sister, alongside the lyrics to You Are My Sunshine in a moving tribute.

Grace Millane's brother paid tribute to her online Credit: Instagram/Declan Millane

Detectives in New Zelanad said they had identified a “location of interest” after the investigation led them to a spot on Scenic Drive, a country road about 12 miles west of the city centre, on Saturday night.

Speaking at the scene on Sunday afternoon, Mr Beard said investigators had “located a body which we believe to be Grace” about 10m from the roadside.

Grace Millane was travelling in New Zealand when she went missing Credit: Auckland City Police/PA

“The formal identification process will now take place, however, based on the evidence we have gathered over the past few days, we expect that this is Grace,” he said.

“Obviously this brings the search for Grace to an end. It is an unbearable time for the Millane family and our hearts go out to them.”

A stretch of the road was closed on Sunday while forensics officers scoured the area.

Police stand along a section of Scenic Drive in the Waitakere Ranges outside Auckland Credit: Doug Sherring/New Zealand Herald via AP

Two large blue and white tents had been erected and investigators wearing white overalls were seen nearby.

Scenic Drive snakes through dense rainforest in the Waitakere Ranges, which lie to the west of Auckland.

The spot where police found the body is in the vicinity of the Waitakere Reservoir and dam, a beauty spot with hiking trails.

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Mr Beard said investigators were analysing a hire car as part of the probe.

The red Toyota Corolla hatchback was hired from a central Auckland rental firm just before lunchtime on December 2, the day after Ms Millane was last seen alive.

Police have appealed for sightings of the car in the west Auckland area between 6.30am and 9.30am on Monday.

The last confirmed sighting of Ms Millane was at 9.41pm on December 1, the day before her birthday, at the CityLife Hotel in central Auckland, when she was seen with a “male companion”.

Timeline of the investigation into Ms Millane's disappearance. Credit: PA Graphics

Since arriving in New Zealand from Peru on November 20, she had been in near-daily contact with her family.

Police received a missing person report on Wednesday and began a major search and public campaign that saw dozens of calls made to a helpline.

Ms Millane’s father, David Millane, flew to Auckland and made a public appeal for help finding his daughter, who he described as “lovely, outgoing, fun-loving (and) family-orientated”.