Grace Millane's mum confronts 'callous and depraved' murderer in court as he's jailed for 17 years

THE MUM of a woman murdered in New Zealand has told her killer he had "robbed" their family of "so many memories we were going to create" – as he was sentenced to a minimum of 17 years in jail today.

Grace Millane, 22, a marketing graduate from Essex, died on a Tinder date in Auckland when she was strangled during sex.

The 28-year-old murderer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was jailed for life today with a non-parole period of 17 years.

Justice Simon Moore told the killer: "You were a stranger, she trusted you. You are a large and powerful man, she was diminutive.

"You were in a position of total physical dominance."

Grace's devastated mum, Gillian, told the killer her daughter "died terrified and alone in your room".

Mrs Millane, appearing in court via video link from the family home, read an emotional victim impact statement, saying Grace was "my friend, my very best friend".

She added: "I am absolutely heartbroken that you have taken my daughter's future and robbed us of so many memories that we were going to create.

"The tears I shed are never-ending at the thought of never having the chance to kiss my Grace goodbye.

"I will miss my darling Grace until my last breath."

Her daughter's murderer held his head in his hands as he listened to the impact his "barbaric actions" have had on Grace's family.

Grace's brother, Declan Millane, and sister-in-law, also appeared via video link from the family home, with a picture of Grace visible in the background.

Fighting through tears, Mr Millane said: "This person did not just take Grace's life, he took away a piece of my life as well. I have not felt whole since my sister's death."

Earlier today, Grace's cousin Hannah O'Callaghan said the sentencing of her killer may not help the family to overcome their grief.

She told BBC Breakfast: "The sentence will not change the fact that Grace is gone."

She remembered her cousin as a "fun-loving carefree individual" with much to look forward to.

Grace was six weeks into a backpacking "trip of a lifetime" after recently graduating from the University of Lincoln.

Grace, from Wickford in Essex, went on a date with a 27-year-old man on December 1 2018 while in New Zealand, and was killed either that night or in the early hours of the next morning, the date of her 22nd birthday.

Her body was later found buried in a shallow grave in a forested area outside Auckland.

The 27-year-old man, who can not be named for legal reasons, was found guilty at Auckland High Court in November.

Prosecutors said he strangled her and shoved her body inside a suitcase before burying her.

She was assumed missing and her dad, David Millane, flew to New Zealand as local authorities spent a week searching until her body was found by police.

The family have now set up a charity in her memory, called Love Grace, where handbags and toiletries are collected for domestic abuse victims.

The project is now running in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Britain.

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