Grace Millane: Body found in British backpacker murder investigation

Tom Gillespie, news reporter

Detectives investigating the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane in New Zealand have found a body.

Officers had earlier identified a countryside road on the outskirts of Auckland as a "location of interest".

Scenic Drive is roughly 15 miles from the CityLife hotel where Ms Millane was last seen on 1 December.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said the body was found in a bush about 10 metres off the road during a scene examination.

He told reporters on Sunday: "A short time ago we located a body that we believe to be Grace.

"Based on the evidence we have gathered in the past few days we expect that this is Grace.

"This is an unbearable time for the Millane family and our hearts go out to them."

He added that Ms Millane's family had been informed.

Detectives have released images of a red Toyota Corolla hatchback and have asked anyone who saw the vehicle on Monday 3 December between 6.30am and 9.30am to contact them.

The car was rented in central Auckland on Sunday.

A 26-year-old man has been charged with murder and will appear at Auckland District Court on Monday.

Ms Millane, from Wickford in Essex, graduated from the University of Lincoln in September and was on a year-long around-the-world trip.

She arrived in New Zealand from Peru on 20 November.

The graduate was last seen with a "male companion" at a hotel in Auckland at 9:41pm on Saturday 1 December.

Her father David has described her as a "lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-orientated daughter" who had been in regular contact before she disappeared.

Ms Millane is known to have used the Tinder dating app while she was in New Zealand.

Police said there was no suggestion Ms Millane previously knew the man she was seen entering the hotel with, but would not speculate on how they met.

She was staying at the Base Backpackers hostel in central Auckland before she went missing.

Investigators announced on Friday they were treating Ms Millane's disappearance as murder, having previously expressed "grave fears" for her safety.