Man accused of killing British backpacker appears in New Zealand court

Wellington: A man accused of killing 22-year-old British tourist Grace Millane made his first appearance in a New Zealand court on Monday.

The 26-year-old man stared at the ground while Judge Evangelos Thomas addressed him during the brief appearance at the Auckland District Court. The man has not yet entered a plea on murder charges and the court has temporarily blocked his name from being published.

A man has appeared in a New Zealand court charged with the murder of British tourist Grace Millane.Credit:Facebook

Millane's father, David Millane, travelled to New Zealand last week after his daughter vanished, and the judge addressed him and other family members.

"I don't know what to say to you at this time, but your grief must be desperate," he said, according to television station Three. "We all hope justice will be fair and swift and ultimately bring you some peace."

The case has riveted people both in Britain and New Zealand.

Described by her father as fun-loving and family-oriented, Millane had been travelling in New Zealand as part of a planned year-long trip abroad that began in Peru.

She went missing on December 1 and failed to get in touch with her family on her birthday the next day, nor on the days that followed, which alarmed them.

Before she vanished, Millane had been staying at a backpacker hostel in Auckland and left some of her belongings there.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said she met a man for a couple of hours in the evening before surveillance cameras showed them entering the CityLife hotel about 9.40pm.

A week after Millane disappeared, police detained a man for questioning and later charged him with murder.

On Sunday, police found a body they believe is that of Millane in a forested area about 10 metres from the side of the road in the Waitakere Ranges near Auckland.

Police believe Millane's body was taken to the area in a rental car that was later left in the town of Taupo.

The suspect's lawyer, Ian Brookie, applied on Monday for name suppression on the basis his client needed it for a fair trial, an argument that Judge Thomas rejected on the basis of open justice.

Brookie appealed, triggering the man's name to be suppressed temporarily.

The man is scheduled to make his next court appearance on January 23.

AP

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