A man who strangled a British backpacker and hid her body inside a suitcase has been found guilty of murder.
Grace Millane was found buried in bushland outside Auckland, New Zealand.
A jury at the city’s high court rejected claims by the 27-year-old man, that she died accidentally during “rough sex”.
Grace Millane’s parents David and Gillian wept in the public gallery as jurors convicted their daughter’s killer. Speaking outside the court, an emotional father said his family’s lives had been “ripped apart” by his daughter’s “barbaric” murder.
“Grace was our sunshine and she will be missed forever.”
Jurors heard the defendant and Grace had met via the Tinder dating app on 1 December last year, the night before her 22nd birthday. They spent several hours drinking cocktails in bars around Auckland before going to the defendant’s hotel.
She was found in the mountainous Waitākere Ranges a week later.
Prosecutors said post-mortem examinations found bruises “consistent with restraint” on her body, and that she had been strangled.
On the night of her death, the court heard, the defendant “wasn’t distressed or concerned by her death”, and set about making plans to dispose of her remains.
The following day, he went on a Tinder date with another woman while the body of Ms Millane remained in the hotel room. He had bought a second suitcase in a bid to cover his tracks, as well as cleaning products and a shovel, jurors heard.
New Zealand’s court system, left the killer unnamed since there is provision for names to be suppressed in legal cases, which means it becomes illegal to publish it in newspapers, online or anywhere else. The purpose is to protect people not yet proven guilty – but also to have a fairer trial by ensuring the jury is not prejudiced by media coverage.
Images can also be withheld. Justice Simon Moore ordered that the suppression order which prevents naming the defendant would remain in place indefinitely until lifted by the court.