16 Jan 2019

Grace Millane murder-accused pleads not guilty

12:36 pm on 16 January 2019

The man accused of killing the British backpacker Grace Millane has pleaded not guilty to her murder.

Grace Millane

Grace Millane Photo: Supplied / Facebook

The 27-year-old, who has interim name suppression, appeared in the High Court in Auckland this morning before Justice Moore.

He will stand trial from 4 November.

Ms Millane, 22, went missing from a hostel in Auckland on 1 December. Her family in Wickford, England became concerned when the University of Lincoln graduate failed to respond to birthday messages on 2 December.

Her body was found more than a week later in dense bush in the Waitākere Ranges on the outskirts of the city.

The death prompted thousands of people to attend vigils across the country, partly in protest over the violence against women in New Zealand.

The accused stood in the dock with his hands clasped in front of him as he entered his not guilty plea this morning.

Justice Moore remanded the man in custody until his next court appearance.

He declined media applications to film and take photos in court.

Justice Moore emphasised that strict suppression orders were in place and he warned people in the public gallery not to take photos.

He said at the man's first appearance in the Auckland District Court, someone in the public gallery took a photo on their phone and it ended up online.

A District Court judge refused to grant the man name suppression at an earlier hearing, but his lawyer Ian Brookie indicated he would appeal that decision.

Google didn't receive the court order until five days later, and by then had already named the accused man in an email to anyone signed up to its "what's trending in New Zealand" service.

That prompted the government to call for a meeting with Google's New Zealand representatives to explain the breach. Justice Minister Andrew Little plans to follow up with the multinational company this year.

The appeal period has not yet lapsed, so name suppression remains in place.

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