7 Feb 2019

Grace Millane: Man accused of murdering British backpacker keeps identity secret - for now

1:51 pm on 7 February 2019

The man accused of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane will keep his name secret - for now.

Grace Millane

Grace Millane Photo: Supplied / Facebook

The 27-year-old, who has interim name suppression, appeared in the High Court at Auckland this morning for a name suppression hearing.

His lawyer Ian Brookie argued name suppression should continue on the basis of fair trial rights.

The accused first appeared in the Auckland District Court in December, where Judge Evangelos Thomas declined to grant name suppression.

But his identity remained suppressed after Mr Brookie indicated he would appeal the decision to the High Court.

This morning Justice Moore reserved his decision - meaning the man has continued name suppression until a ruling is released.

Ms Millane, 22, went missing from a hostel in Auckland on 1 December, the eve of her 22nd birthday. Her body was found in the Waitākere Ranges a week later.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard, who led the investigation into her disappearance, was at court for today's hearing.

The man pleaded not guilty to murdering her last month and will stand trial in November.

Despite an interim name suppression order, the man's name was published in overseas media and internet giant Google was later criticised for sending a mass email, including the accused's name, containing trending searches of the moment.

It raised concerns over how breaches of names suppression may affect his future trial.

As of last week, one person had been warned by police about breaching suppression orders.

A police spokesperson said they were aware of the situation and were monitoring breaches of suppression in New Zealand while enquiries into specific incidents were ongoing.

Police have the ability to charge a person for breaching a suppression order, provided there is sufficient evidence to do so.