Grace Millane murder suspect’s compliment on her Facebook as identity revealed

This is the face of the murder suspect accused of killing Brit backpacker Grace Millane who vanished from a hostel in New Zealand.

Jesse Kempson, 26, appeared at Auckland District Court today, charged with murdering 22-year-old Grace between December 1 and 2.

Sitting only feet away from the tourist’s grieving family, he was branded a "scumbag" from the public gallery during the hearing.

Just over a week ago, Kempson had taken to Grace’s Facebook page to comment on a "radiant" black-and-white picture of her smiling.

Under the name Jesse Shane, he had written: "Beautiful very radiant." He had also posted an upside down smiley face emoji.

It is not clear exactly when Kempson uploaded the post, but it is believed to have been earlier this month, before Grace vanished.

Kempson, who once played softball alongside military and police officials, cannot be named in New Zealand for legal reasons.

He faced court for the first time this morning.

Although a judge refused an interim name suppression, the suspect decided to appeal the decision. It means he will keep his anonymity in the country for at least 21 more days.

Speaking to members of Grace’s family who were in court, Judge Evangelos Thomas said: "Your grief must be desperate. All of us hope justice for Grace is fair, swift and ultimately brings you some peace."

Kempson was living at the hotel where the University of Lincoln advertising graduate was last seen alive, according to a charge sheet.

As he was taken back to the cells by prison officers after the hearing, a man in the public gallery yelled: "Scumbag," MailOnline reports.

Documents submitted to the court suggested police believe Grace, also an artist, was killed between December 1 and 2, her birthday.

However, a body – said to be hers – wasn’t discovered until Sunday.

It meant she may have ‘lay dead’ for up to one week.

Detectives said they had identified a "location of interest" after the investigation led them to a spot on Scenic Drive, a country road about 12 miles west of the city centre, on Saturday night.

Speaking at the scene on Sunday afternoon, Detective Inspector Scott Beard said investigators had "located a body which we believe to be Grace" about 10 metres from the roadside.

The last confirmed sighting of Grace was at 9.41pm on December 1 at the Citylife Hotel, when she was seen with a "male companion".

Since arriving in New Zealand from Peru on November 20, the young woman, from Essex, had been in near-daily contact with her family.

Police received a missing person report on Wednesday and launched a major search and public campaign.

This saw dozens of calls made to a helpline.

Grace’s dad, David Millane, flew to Auckland and made a public appeal for help finding his "lovely" and "family-orientated" daughter.

Her brother, Declan Millane, paid tribute by sharing pictures on social media of him and his sister, adding the lyrics of You Are My Sunshine.

He wrote on Instagram: "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away."

A stretch of the road was closed on Sunday while forensics officers scoured the area.

Two large blue and white tents had been erected, with investigators wearing white overalls seen nearby.

Scenic Drive snakes through dense rainforest in the Waitakere Ranges, which lie to the west of Auckland.

The spot where police found the body is in the vicinity of the Waitakere Reservoir and dam, a beauty spot with hiking trails.

Earlier today, it emerged a post-mortem has been carried out on Grace.

But her cause of death will not be revealed as the results of the examination are not being released, officers in New Zealand said.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard, of the Auckland City Police, said: "The enquiry team working on the murder of English tourist Grace Millane have continued investigations throughout the day.

"The scene examination on Scenic Drive is ongoing and will continue tomorrow.

"The 0800 number has received a number of calls from people with information about the 2016 red Toyota Corolla hatchback.

"Police would like to hear from anyone who travelled along Scenic Drive on Monday 3 December, between 6am and 9.30am.

"The vehicle was rented for a 24-hour period and was returned to a central Auckland rental car company on Monday 3 December at lunchtime."

DI Beard added: "The post-mortem examination has been carried out today. We will not be releasing the results of this examination."

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern has given an emotional apology to the backpacker’s family.

Ms Ardern said: "Your daughter should have been safe here, and she wasn’t, and I’m sorry for that."

Speaking to reporters, she added: "I cannot imagine the grief of her family and what they would be experiencing and feeling right now.

"My thoughts and prayers are with her father David, who is in the country, her mother Gillian, who cannot be here, and her wider family, friends and loved ones.

"From the Kiwis I have spoken to, there is this overwhelming sense of hurt and shame that this has happened in our country, a place that prides itself on our hospitality, on our manaakitanga (a Maori term meaning kindness and generosity) especially to those who are visiting our shores."

Read More

Disappearance of Grace Millane

  • Man charged with murder after body found
  • Police launch murder probe
  • Hire car seized by Grace detectives
  • Mysterious sighting on motorway
  • Dad’s emotional appeal
  • Police identify missing belongings

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