Grace Millane’s murderer will serve at least 17 years behind bars.
The 28-year-old man, whose identity remains suppressed by court order, was sentenced to life imprisonment in the High Court at Auckland this morning.
In opening, judge Simon Moore acknowledged his biggest decision in sentencing the killer was settling upon the minimum number of years he must spend in jail without chance of release.
Ultimately, Justice Moore opted for a non-parole period of 17 years - among the longer stretches handed down to a murderer in this country.
In his remarks, Justice Moore said while he was satisfied the murder of Grace Millane was not pre-meditated, he described the killer’s behaviour in the aftermath as “depraved”.
That behaviour included taking intimate photographs of her corpse, watching pornography while she lay dead on the floor of his Auckland apartment and squeezing her body into a suitcase, before burying her in a shallow grave in the Waitakere Ranges.
“For the murder of Miss Millane, I sentence you to life imprisonment. I order that you serve a minimum of 17 years in prison,” Justice Moore said.
In comparison, William Bell was sentenced to a minimum non-parole period of 30 years for killing three people in 2001, while in 2014, Tony Robertson was sentenced to 23 years without parole for the murder of Blessie Gotingco.
Today, as throughout last year’s high-profile trial, proceedings played out before a packed public gallery.
The man was found guilty of murdering Grace Millane in November last year - convicted of strangling the British backpacker to death in his CityLife apartment between December 1-2, 2018 - on the eve of Grace’s 22nd birthday.
Before Justice Moore passed down his sentence, victim impact statements were read to the court by members of the Millane family - including Grace’s mother, Gillian, one of her brothers, Declan, and her sister-in-law, Victoria.
Appearing via video link from the United Kingdom, the Millane family cried as they delivered heartbreaking accounts of their family’s ordeal.
Delivering the final of the three statements, Gillian Millane detailed how earlier in the year of her daughter’s death, she had been diagnosed with breast cancer - and had only been out of surgery a matter of days when Grace was murdered. She described Grace as her “rock” throughout her cancer fight.
“I was one week post-op when that nightmare began,” Gillian Millane read to the court.
Gillian Millane also detailed ongoing emotional and psychological effects of the trauma - and that she will be “haunted for the rest of my life” but her daughter will “always be my sunshine.”
She also remarked how her husband and Grace’s father, David, has recently become ill - pointing at the stress of the situation as a major factor.
Addressing the killer, Gillian Millane simply said her family refuses to even use his name.