New Zealand police say missing British tourist was murdered


A week of fading hopes for British backpacker Grace Millane has come to a devastating end with police saying they believe she has been murdered - although no body has been found. The murder suspect, a 26-year old man, is scheduled to appear at Auckland district court on Monday, The Guardian reports.

Millane had been in New Zealand for two weeks, the UK's Press Association news agency reported.

News of the expected murder charge comes after police confirmed Millane's disappearance was being treated as a homicide.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said evidence they had found led them to believe Grace was "no longer alive".

"Grace's family have been advised of this development and they are devastated", Det Insp Beard added.

Earlier on Saturday, police said some of Millane's belongings, including her passport, a pale pink Casio Baby-G watch and a silver necklace with a green stone in the middle, were missing from the hostel she was staying at.

Police also seized a vehicle yesterday and it was likely used to transport Millane's body, which was still missing, retired Bay of Plenty District crime manager and Detective Inspector Graham Bell said. "We still don't know where Grace is".

"Thank you to all who helped try and find Grace. They're shocked and saddened by what's happened".

Her birthday was on Sunday, but she didn't contact her family.

The announcement follows a review of CCTV footage, the forensic examination of a hotel where she was last seen on Saturday 1 December, and the discovery of a vehicle.

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A vehicle of interest had been secured and police were trying to find out exactly where the vehicle had been since Millane's disappearance.

Police have no evidence to suggest the pair knew each other before December 1, Inspector Beard said.

Police had identified the man by yesterday and spoken to him before he was taken to Auckland Central police station today.

Mr Beard said Ms Millane's passport, necklace and watch were still missing and police wanted anyone with information on these or anything else to get in touch on 0800 676 255.

"As a family we have been extremely concerned for her welfare", he said.

"We still do not know where Grace is".

Detectives said yesterday they were continuing to view hundreds of hours of CCTV footage, while they continue to examine the CityLife Hotel in central Auckland, where she was last seen entering with a man on Saturday night.

Ms Millane, from Essex, was described as a "lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-orientated daughter" by her father, David Millane. Her brothers Michael and Declan Millane had been vocal in their search for their sister, urging people to share and retweet images of her online.

She graduated from the University of Lincoln in September and had embarked on a year-long worldwide trip. She was captured on CCTV leaving Andy's Burgers & Bar on the first level of SkyCity at 7.15pm last Saturday.