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'Scumbag!' Man yells in courtroom as Grace Millane's accused murderer is led away

The man accused of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane made his first appearance this morning in the Auckland District Court, and was given name suppression despite the judge wishing his identity was made public.

"Scumbag," a person in the public gallery yelled as he was led away from the courtroom at the conclusion of the hearing. 

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    The man appeared in Auckland District Court on December 10 after Ms Millane’s body was found the day before. Source: 1 NEWS

    Earlier, Judge Evangelos Thomas began the hearing by acknowledging the presence of Ms Millane's family in court. 

    "I don't know what we can say to you at this time - your grief must be desperate," he said. "All of us hope justice for Grace is fair and swift, and ultimately brings you some peace."

    He added, however, that today's hearing is not about reaching a judgment. 

    Grace Millane
    Grace Millane Source: Supplied

    "I ask everyone please be patient as we get through the business of the first court appearance," the judge told the courtroom audience - which included reporters from as far away as Australia and the UK - before considering the name suppression request by the man's lawyer.

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      Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was one of those to express sorrow at the 22-year-old’s death. Source: 1 NEWS

      After lengthy submissions on the matter, Judge Thomas initially refused the defendant's request for name suppression.

      "You have not been able to satisfy me that you have even an arguable case for name suppression and I must refuse it," he said.

      David Millane - the father of British backpacker Grace Millane, who was found dead in west Auckland - arrives outside the Auckland District Court on 10 December for the first appearance of her accused killer. Source: 1 NEWS

      But the man's lawyer indicated plans to appeal the decision, meaning the name must stay suppressed for 20 working days while an appeal is filed.

      The police - along with Ms Millane's family, through the police - opposed the decision to grant name suppression.

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      For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

      The 26-year-old has been in police custody since Saturday, one day before police found what they believe to be Ms Millane’s body in west Auckland bush, about 10 metres from the road.

      Police remain at the crime scene near Waitakere, west Auckland, one day after the body of young British backpacker Grace Millane was found about 10 metres from the road. Source: 1 NEWS

      "Sadly, the evidence we have gathered to this point of the inquiry has established that this is a homicide," Detective Inspector Scott Beard told reporters on Saturday after interviewing the suspect at the Auckland Central Police Station.

      A police spokesperson told 1 NEWS the body was removed from the scene last night and that the post mortem is taking place today.

      Ms Millane, 22, had come to New Zealand as part of her OE. She went missing on December 1, prompting widespread concern and media coverage both in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

      Court documents obtained today by 1 NEWS say police believe the man committed a single count of murder between the first and second of December. 

      Dozens of police aided in the search, scouring CCTV footage from Auckland CBD before zeroing in on the single suspect.

      "It is an unbearable time for the Millane family and our hearts go out to them," Mr Beard told the media yesterday after a body was located.

      Ms Millane's father flew from the UK to New Zealand last week to aid in his daughter's search. Now the family is in mourning. 

      Her brother, Declan Millane, posted a moving tribute to her on Instagram overnight - six photos of the vibrant young woman accompanied by the lyrics to You Are My Sunshine. 

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        Auckland Detective Inspector Scott Beard briefed media near the scene late this afternoon. Source: 1 NEWS