Grace Millane, 22, lay dead for a week, court reveals, as family pay tribute to Brit backpacker murdered in New Zealand

Brother Declan Millane wrote out the lyrics to You Are My Sunshine, along with a series of pictures of them both, as the desperate hunt to find her came to a close.

The 22-year-old's brother wrote: "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey.

"You'll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away."

The 26-year-old Kiwi suspect – who made his first court appearanced on Monday – was said to have been living in the hotel where she was last seen alive.

The body, believed to be that of Grace, was found hours after her mum posted a picture of her and her daughter on Instagram, as the family hoped for good news.

Today Judge Evangelos Thomas told them: "Your grief must be desperate."

The 26-year-old suspect appeared this morning in Auckland District Court after Grace's body was found over the weekend.

The man – whose occupation is unknown – is alleged to have killed Grace between December 1 and 2, The New Zealand Herald reports.

He was seen entering CityLife Hotel with Grace last Saturday and has since been charged with her murder.

Police have not said how the pair met but he his home address is listed as the same hotel she disappeared from, Sky News reports.

Hundreds of people showed their support for the family, writing messages of love and sympathy on Declan's post.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said the body was found off a countryside road outside the city of Auckland, adding "our hearts go out to them [the family]."

Her dad, millionaire property developer David, 60, had flown to New Zealand earlier in the week, where he made an emotional appeal for help.

Fighting back tears at a press conference, he asked for anyone with information, “any detail, no matter how small”, to come forward.

Mr Millane, from Wickford, Essex, said: “Grace is a lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-orientated daughter. Grace has never been out of contact for this amount of time.

“She’s usually in daily contact with either her mother, myself, her two brothers or members of the family on social media. We have been extremely concerned for her welfare.

“We are all extremely upset and it is very difficult at this time to fully describe the range of emotions we are all going through.”

Police quizzed Grace's suspected Tinder date over her disappearance after she was seen on CCTV going into a hotel with a man she met on the dating app on the night she vanished.

It was thought to be the last sighting of millionaire’s daughter Grace, who was on a gap year trip.

The spot where the body was found is near the Waitakere Reservoir and dam, a hiking hotspot.

Getty Images – Getty14Det Insp Beard also revealed investigators are analysing a hire car as part of the probe.

The red Toyota Corolla hatchback was hired from a central Auckland rental firm just before lunchtime on December 2, the day after Grace was last seen alive.

Cops have appealed for sightings of the car in the west Auckland area between 6.30am and 9.30am on Monday.

Grace was last seen on Saturday night and was still booked into the £10-a-night Base Backpackers party hostel.

On the day of her disappearance she told pals at the hostel, “I’m going to see a friend”. She messaged others saying she was meeting a guy, her family said.

It was widely thought she had made a date on Tinder, although police have refused to confirm it.

Before the CityLife Hotel footage emerged, the last confirmed sighting of Grace had been CCTV of her dressed for a night out as she left the Sky City casino complex at 7.15pm.

She was wearing a pink £5,000 prize draw wristband, suggesting she planned to return to the casino, just a few minutes from the hotel.

Matt Searle, chief executive of the Lucie Blackman Trust, which is working with Grace’s family, confirmed police were exploring the possibility she met someone online.

He said: “Speaking to the police in Auckland, it is an avenue they are looking at but we think the Tinder side of it is unsubstantiated.

“We have had literally hundreds of people telling us she’s on Tinder.

“We don’t know who this guy was or how she met him and everyone is keeping a very open mind as to how that came about.”

  • GOT a news story? RING us on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]

Source: Read Full Article