NZ police find body in backpacker search

Grace Millane, 22, from Essex, who went missing in New ZealandImage copyright

Police in New Zealand investigating the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane have found a body on the outskirts of Auckland.

Det Insp Scott Beard said the body was “believed to be Grace” but was yet to be formally identified.

A 26-year-old man currently being held by police has been charged with killing Miss Millane, 22, from Essex.

Det Insp Beard said the body was found “about 10 metres” off Scenic Drive, a countryside road outside the city.

He added it was an “unbearable time for the Millane family and our hearts go out to them”.

“Any father, any parent in this situation will struggle,” Det Insp Beard said. “We’re putting a lot of support around him [Grace’s father]. It’s difficult because he’s here with a brother from England and the rest of the family are back home.”

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Lucie Blackman Trust

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The 22-year-old graduated from the University of Lincoln in September and went travelling shortly afterwards

Miss Millane had been travelling alone in New Zealand for two weeks, following a six-week group trip through South America.

She was last seen on the evening of Saturday 1 December.

The announcement on Saturday by police that Miss Millane was “no longer alive” followed a review of CCTV footage, the forensic examination of a hotel where she was last seen, and the discovery of a vehicle.

Police then announced on Sunday that a body had been found.

Media captionNew Zealand Police investigating the murder of a British backpacker confirm the discovery of a body

The man who has been charged – who was seen with Miss Millane on the night she went missing – will remain in police custody until Monday when he is due in court, police said.

Det Insp Beard issued an appeal for anybody who saw a red Toyota Corolla rental car, which had been hired from a company in Auckland.

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New Zealand Police

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Police said their focus is to “piece together exactly what happened” and want to hear from anyone who saw this car last Monday morning

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Getty Images

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The body was found in an area of woodland in the Waitakere Ranges, which is a region of rainforest and beaches west of Auckland popular with hikers

Police said her family were “devastated” after being told the missing persons case had become a murder investigation.

Speaking at a news conference in Auckland on Friday, Grace’s father, David Millane, described his daughter as “lovely” and “family-orientated”.

He added that his daughter had been “bombarding us with numerous photographs and messages of her adventures” before she went missing.

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Police released CCTV images of the backpacker at Auckland’s Sky City entertainment complex before she disappeared

New Zealanders have been expressing sadness at the news.

Ruth Dyson, an MP for Port Hills in New Zealand’s Parliament, was among those who offered condolences on social media, tweeting that her country is grieving with Grace’s family.

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