Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Grace Millane's mother tells daughter's killer: 'I torment myself over what you did'

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

The mother of murdered British traveller Grace Millane told her daughter's killer how 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 22nd birthday.

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

Grace's mother Gillian Millane told the killer she died “terrified and alone in a room with you”.

Speaking via video link to the court, Ms Millane's mother, Gillian, spoke of how her daughter's "tragic life was cut short by your willful, cruel actions," as she addressed her daughter's murderer.

She said: "You took it upon yourself to murder my beautiful Grace. That innocent young lady.

"On a daily basis I torment myself over what you did."

In a powerful victim impact statement, Ms Millane addressed her daughter's killer directly: "She died terrified and alone in a room with you," she told the 28-year-old, putting emphasis on the final word of her statement.

Giving his testimony, Grace's older brother, Declan, spoke of his family being "ripped apart" when his sibling stopped responding to messages sent on her 22nd birthday - the day she is thought to have been murdered on.

He said: "The following weeks were the hardest and worst weeks of my life.

"I remember taking the phone call from my dad, telling me that Grace's body had been found and I just remember I was instantly sick.

"Ever since December 2018, I cannot close my eyes without reliving that moment of not knowing what happened to my sister - and the thought of how scared she must have been and that I could have done nothing to help her."

CCTV showed Grace Millane inside a hotel lift with the 28-year-old male convicted of her murder. Credit: PA

The defendant claimed Ms Millane died accidentally after the pair engaged in rough sex that went too far.

A jury in November rejected that argument and found the man guilty.

Jailing him for life with a minimum term of 17 years, Mr Justice Simon Moore told the murderer his actions amounted to “conduct that underscores a lack of empathy and sense of self-entitlement and objectification”.

Speaking on the steps of the court, Detective Inspector Scott Beard said he felt “rough sex” should not be considered a defence to murder.

“Strangling someone for five to ten minutes until they die is not rough sex,” he said.

“If people are going to use that type of defence, all it actually does is repetitively revictimises the victim and the victim’s family.

“In this case, the Millanes have had to sit through a trial for a number of weeks and their daughter’s background, rightly or wrongly, was out in the public.

  • Grace Millane's mother and brother speak of their despair at her death

“I don’t believe that rough sex should be a defence. I understand why the defence would use it but the bottom line is the individual has killed someone.”

During the trial, the jurors heard from forensic experts who examined the accused’s apartment for blood stains as well as Miss Millane’s body after her death.

They were also shown footage of the woman and the defendant drinking at various bars in Auckland and kissing before they returned to his apartment.

Video footage of her exiting an elevator on the third floor marked the last recorded time Miss Millane was seen alive.

Police officers said phone data showed the killer had used Google to browse websites for large duffel bags, suitcases and car hire after Miss Millane died.

The defendant’s phone was also used to search for “flesh-eating birds” and “are there vultures in New Zealand?”.

Records showed the defendant had searched online for “the hottest fire”, “large bags near me” and “Waitakere Ranges”.

The Millane family have now set up a charity in her memory, called Love Grace, where handbags and toiletries are collected for domestic abuse victims.

The project is now running in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Britain.

race Millane was murdered whilst travelling in New Zealand. Credit: PA

What happened to Grace Millane?

On November 30, 2018 Ms Millane matched on the dating app with the man who would take her life.

The following evening she met him for a date shortly before 6pm.

After drinks, the pair heading to her killer's apartment in Auckland's CityLife building and Ms Millane was killed either that night or in the early hours of the next morning - the date of her 22nd birthday.

After her death, her killer did not call police but instead made numerous internet searches for pornography and items to help him dispose of Ms Millane's body.

The following day, her murderer went on another date, again with a woman he met on Tinder, before disposing of Ms Millane's body in a suitcase in a shallow grave off a rural road outside the city limits.

Two days later, a missing person's report was launched by Ms Millane's family.

Police announced a murder investigation had been opened on December 10, 2018.

The man pleaded not guilty when he first appeared in court in the first weeks of 2019.

The defence had claimed the death was accidental and occurred during rough sexual intercourse.

Some 11 months later a jury found he was responsible for the death of the graduate.

The parent's of Ms Millane sat through the entire trial and in November, on the day her murderer was convicted, they spoke of how they welcomed the verdict.

Her father said: "The verdict of murder today will be welcomed by every member of the Millane family and friends of Grace.

"It will not reduce the pain and suffering we have had to endure over the past year.

"Grace was taken in the most brutal fashion a year ago and our lives have been ripped apart.

"Grace was our sunshine and she will be missed forever. She did not deserve to be murdered in such a barbaric way during her gap year."