What happened to Grace Millane in New Zealand? – The Sun | The Sun

THE murder of Grace Millane in 2018 left her family devastated.

Here, we look at what happened to her and how she died.

Who was Grace Millane?

University of Lincoln graduate Grace was born on December 2, 1996.

After graduating with a marketing degree in 2018, she began travelling on October 26, 2018.

The outgoing former student spent six weeks in South America as part of a gap year.

Grace, hailing from Wickford, Essex, was hoping to travel to Thailand, the Philippines and Australia.

She arrived alone in New Zealand on November 20, 2018, and travelled to Auckland ten days later.

Tragically she would not see her 22nd birthday – just two days away.



All about Grace Millane's killer Jesse Kempson and where he is now

When was Grace Millane last seen?

Grace was last seen on Saturday, December 1, 2018, the eve of her 22nd birthday.

She had been staying at the £10-a-night Base Backpackers on Queen Street, a popular location for travellers in the centre of the city.

Her parents sent birthday wishes on December 2 but received no reply, which raised alarm bells.

Her family was left baffled after they lost contact with Grace, describing her silence as "completely out of character".

She was last spotted on CCTV going into a hotel around 9.40pm, accompanied by Jesse Kempson, then 26.

Grace and Jesse had been on a Tinder date that evening and were seen kissing at the Bluestone Room bar in Auckland.

They walked arm-in-arm a short distance into the lobby of the CityHigh hotel where the killer was living.

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What happened to Grace Millane in New Zealand?

Grace was murdered by her date after returning to his hotel room at the CityLife Hotel.

He was caught on CCTV leaving the room with a porter's trolley, ladened with two suitcases.

Kempson then buried the suitcase – containing Grace's body – in a wooded area outside Auckland.

Her parents reported her missing three days after her birthday, leading to an investigation by the police, which initially was just a missing person investigation.

Police launched a full murder investigation after finding her body in the Waitakere Ranges, a beauty spot on the outskirts of Auckland.

After he was contacted by police, Kempson wove an elaborate web of lies, at first claiming he and Grace had parted as friends and had planned to meet the next day.

When trapped by CCTV footage showing him buying the suitcase, however, the killer changed his story.

He claimed Grace had told him she had learned BDSM sex games with a former boyfriend and had asked him to choke her during intercourse.

Lawyers for the defendant argued the Brit had died during "rough" sex after consensual choking went wrong and Kempson had merely panicked.

This line of defence is sometimes known as the 50 Shades defence and was widely criticised at the time of the trial.

But it was found that Grace would have recovered if the pressure on her neck had been released in the five to 10 minutes it had taken her to die.

Kempson had searched online for information on "flesh-eating birds", asking "are there vultures in New Zealand?", as well as "the hottest fire", "large bags near me" and "Waitakere Ranges" – where Grace was found.

The jury also heard of Kempson's history of exaggerated stories and lies, such as having cancer and being a professional athlete.

Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey told the jury the killer had “eroticised her death.”

The prosecution also described how the man had taken "intimate" pictures of Grace's dead body, viewed porn while she lay dead in the room, and searched terms like "rigor mortis."

Kempson was charged with the murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum 17 years without parole.

He launched appeals but they were denied and the name suppression ban lifted.

Tragic timeline


November 20 – Grace arrives in New Zealand after travelling in Peru

December 1 – She is seen at the CityLife Hotel, in Auckland, with a 'male companion'

December 2 – Her family hear nothing from her on her 22nd birthday. On the same day a red Toyota Corolla hatchback is rented from a car hire firm

December 5 – A missing persons report is filed by her worried family

December 6 – Police release an image of Grace leaving the hostel on the evening of December 1

December 7 – Her dad David Millane makes an emotional plea for help as police reveal they have spoken to the male companion

December 8 – A 26-year-old man is taken into custody

December 9 – Police find a body they believe to be Grace

December 10 – A 26-year-old man appears in court charged with her murder


November 4- Murder trial begins in Auckland

November 22 – The man, now 27, is convicted of murder


December 22 – A court order surpressing the killer's name is lifted, revealing the murderer as 28-year-old Jesse Kempson of Auckland, New Zealand

What has Grace's family said?

After Kempson was found guilty of Grace's death her parents, David and Gill Millane, said their family had been "ripped apart".

Mr Millane said outside Auckland High Court: “The verdict of murder today will be welcomed by every member of the Millane family and friends of Grace.”

But he added: “It will not reduce the pain and suffering we have had to endure over the past year.

“Grace was taken away from us in the most brutal fashion a year ago and our lives and family have been ripped apart. This will be with us for the rest of our lives.”

The kind 21-year-old had donated her long hair to charity before the trip to the Little Princess Trust.

David continued: “Grace was a beautiful, talented, loving daughter. Grace was our sunshine and she will be missed forever.

“She did not deserve to be murdered in such a barbaric way.”

Her 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.

He 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."

In a statement devastated mum Gillian, told the killer her daughter "died terrified and alone in your room".



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She revealed Grace was her "very best friend", who she will miss until her "last breath".

Tragically, Grace's father David died in November 2020 after a long battle with cancer, New Zealand police said.

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