Grace Millane’s father said they will return home to try to pick up the pieces of their lives. (First published November 2019)
The father of British backpacker Grace Millane, who was murdered in Auckland, has died from cancer.
David Millane was diagnosed with terminal cancer following the trial of Grace’s killer.
He died earlier this week in his hometown in the United Kingdom.
His wife, Gillian, has also battled cancer.
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Detective Inspector Scott Beard, who worked closely with the family following Grace’s death, said on Thursday that police extended their deepest sympathies to the Millane family.
“The Millane family had their lives turned upside down when David’s much loved and cherished daughter Grace was murdered while visiting New Zealand in December 2018,” Beard said.
“Our thoughts and sympathies are with Gillian, Michael, Declan and the rest of their whānau.”
Beard himself had been diagnosed with cancer shortly before the trial of Grace’s killer was due to start.
He told his specialist that, no matter what happened, he had to be up and about by November 4 – the start of the High Court trial for Grace’s murder.
Beard was back at work in September and made the November 4 deadline. He took his place in the public gallery, sitting beside Grace’s parents during the three-week trial.
Grace, 22, was murdered on December 1, 2018, by a man she met for a date in Auckland’s CBD.
She was considered missing for a number of days before her body was later found in West Auckland’s Waitākere Ranges.
During this time David Millane flew to New Zealand and held a press conference at the Auckland Central police station appealing for information.
“Grace is a lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-orientated daughter. Grace has never been out of contact for this amount of time and is usually in daily contact with either her mother, myself or her two brothers,” he said at the time.
David took Grace’s body back to the UK a week after she was found dead. Gillian was unable to travel to New Zealand at the time because she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
Her killer, who cannot be named, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years in February 2020.
At the sentencing, David Millane said the family would return home to the UK and “try and pick up the pieces” following his daughter’s death.
The case made international headlines and the Millane family vowed to use the attention as a cause for good to raise awareness of violence against women.
In October 2019, Grace’s family and friends began filling donated bags with essential and luxury items to be donated to victims of domestic violence.
In New Zealand, Kiwis donated more than 4000 handbags during an appeal spanning 13 days across February.