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Man found guilty of murdering British tourist in New Zealand

Guilty in backpacker murder

A New Zealand jury on Friday found a man guilty of murder in the death of 22-year-old British backpacker Grace Millane.

Millane died last December on her birthday after meeting the man through the dating app Tinder, going out for drinks with him, and then returning to his hotel apartment in central Auckland.

Prosecutors said the man strangled Millane to death. Defence lawyers claimed the death was accidental after the pair engaged in consensual erotic choking that went too far.

But the jury didn’t buy the defence. After the three-week trial, they deliberated for about five hours on Friday afternoon before returning the guilty verdict.

The name of the 27-year-old man is being kept secret for now by court order, a restriction that is sometimes imposed in the New Zealand judicial system. The man will likely face a mandatory life sentence, which comes with a minimum 10-year non-parole period. He is due to be sentenced Feb. 21.

After the trial, Millane’s parents Gillian and David tearfully told media the verdict was welcomed by friends and family alike.

“It will not reduce the pain and suffering we have had to endure over the past year,” David Millane said. “Grace was taken in the most brutal fashion a year ago and our lives have been ripped apart.”

He said that “Grace was our sunshine and she will be missed forever.”

Millane had been travelling through New Zealand as part of a planned yearlong trip abroad after graduating from university.

After the man killed Millane, he stuffed her body into a suitcase, drove to the Waitakere Ranges forest and buried her in a shallow grave, where police found her body a week later.

Her death shocked many in New Zealand, which prides itself on welcoming tourists and where many people travel abroad as well. 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.



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