17:16 GMT26 February 2020
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    New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was on the verge of tears when she apologised for the death of a British backpacker in Auckland. Social media users have also been urged not to identify the man because of a legal technicality his lawyer has deployed.

    Grace Millane, 22, disappeared in Auckland on December 1 and a 26-year-old man has been charged with her murder.

    New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there was an "overwhelming sense of hurt and shame that this has happened in our country".

    ​Miss Millane, who came from Essex and was travelling the world after graduating from the University of Lincoln, had arrived in New Zealand from Peru but went missing on the eve of her 22nd birthday in the country's biggest city on December 1.

    ​Detectives arrested and charged a man on Saturday, December 8, and then on Sunday, December 9, found a body — believed to be that of Miss Millane — in a forest in the Waitakere Ranges.

    ​The man appeared in court in Auckland on Monday, December 10, and Judge Evangelos Thomas offered words of comfort to Miss Millane's family.

    Judge Promises Speedy Justice

    "I don't know what we can say to you at this time — your grief must be desperate. All of us hope justice for Grace is fair and swift, and ultimately brings you some peace," said Judge Thomas.

    ​The suspect's lawyer then made a legal application for his name to be suppressed from the press and public.

    Judge Thomas initially refused the request but the alleged killer's lawyer indicated he planned to appeal against the decision, meaning his identity would be kept secret for 20 days pending an appeal.

    The police and Miss Millane's family had opposed the decision to grant name suppression and it immediately sparked outrage on social media.

    Police then warned people in New Zealand and further afield they would be committing a crime if they identified the man on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

    ​Miss Millane was last see nalive at the Citylife Hotel in central Auckland.

    'Grace Should Have Been Safe Here'

    "On behalf of New Zealand, I want to apologise to Grace's family. Your daughter should have been safe here, and she wasn't, and I'm sorry for that," Ms. Ardern — who became prime minister last year aged just 37, became the first leader in New Zealand's history to give birth while in office in June this year — said.

    Miss Millane planning to travel alone in New Zealand for two weeks, following a six-week group trip in South America.

    ​Detective Inspector Scott Beard, who is leading the investigation, said a red Toyota Corolla rental car, had been hired in Auckland on the morning of December 3 and was key to the inquiry.

    It is thought to have been used to transport Grace's body to the site where it was found.

    New Zealand is generally an extremely safe country with low levels of crime.


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