Essex

Grace Millane: Police in search for long-handled shovel

Grace Millane Image copyright Lucie Blackman Trust
Image caption The University of Lincoln graduate arrived in New Zealand in mid-November

Police investigating the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane are looking for a shovel believed to be connected to the inquiry.

The 22-year-old disappeared in Auckland on 1 December. Police ended their search on Sunday after finding a body on the outskirts of the city.

Det Insp Scott Beard said the body was found "intact".

A 26-year-old man has appeared in court in New Zealand charged with Miss Millane's murder.

Det Insp Beard said he believed the long-handled shovel could be "anywhere between the Scenic Drive and central Auckland areas."

"Someone may have come across it, picked it up and taken it home.

"We need to speak to that person or anyone who has seen it," he said.

David Millane, Grace's father, has flown to New Zealand and visited the place where the body was found.

He took part in a traditional Maori blessing ceremony alongside Grace's uncle and members of the New Zealand police force.

Image caption David Millane visited the place where the body was found and took part in a traditional Maori blessing
Image caption A Maori elder led a brief service and a bouquet of white flowers was laid on the ground

Backpackers have joined local people to hold vigils across the country.

One of them was Joshua Lewis, a friend of Grace's brother Declan, who planned to meet up with her during her travels.

To mark what would have been Grace's birthday on Sunday, he visited Lake Wakatipo, near Queenstown on New Zealand's South Island, to light 22 candles on a cake.

He said: "I wish I was there for there, and for her family right now. I loved Grace like a little sister."

Image caption Joshua Lewis lit 22 candles on a birthday cake for Grace at a vigil near Queenstown
Image caption Backpackers joined locals to place flowers in memory of Grace near Lake Wakatipo, on New Zealand's South Island

Investigators are trying to establish a timeline of events leading up to the death of the graduate from Essex.

Officers said they had received "hundreds" of calls about the case.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Police released CCTV images of the backpacker at Auckland's Sky City entertainment complex on the day she disappeared

A "location of interest" was identified on Saturday night, leading investigators to a spot on Scenic Drive - a country road about 12 miles (19km) west of the city centre.

Det Insp Scott Beard said on Sunday that investigators had "located a body which we believe to be Grace" about 10 metres (33ft) from the roadside.

Miss Millane had been travelling alone in New Zealand for two weeks, following a six-week group trip through South America.

Police believe she was killed between 1 December and 2 December.

The 26-year-old man charged with her murder, who cannot be named, is due to appear in court again next month.

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