Grace Millane killer GUILTY: Jesse Kempson, 27, is convicted of murdering backpacker during sex14 min read

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The parents of British backbacker Grace Millane sobbed today as the man who ‘ripped their lives apart’ when he throttled her to death after a Tinder date was found guilty of murder following a harrowing trial 11,000 miles from the UK in New Zealand.

David Millane broke down on the steps of Auckland High Court as he paid tribute to his ‘beautiful, talented, loving daughter’ and blasted her 27-year-old killer who ‘brutally’ took away Grace’s life on her 22nd birthday in December last year.

Her shattered mother Gill quietly wept as the guilty verdict was delivered to murderer Jesse Kempson after just five hours of deliberations by the jury. 

And outside court, a tearful Mr Millane said: ‘Grace was a beautiful, talented, loving daughter. Grace was our sunshine and she will be missed forever’. 

Kempson used the three-week murder trial to tell poisonous lies about Grace dying accidentally during rough sex he falsely claimed she had enjoyed and even encouraged because she  was a fan of the 50 Shades of Grey films.

In fact he had choked her to death for his own sexual pleasure, watched porn afterwards and stuffed her body in a suitcase. The pervert even left Grace in his blood-soaked room to go on another date before he decided to bury her in a muddy hole a New Zealand forest. He will be sentenced in February. 

Mr Millane said after the verdict: ‘She did not deserve to be murdered in such a barbaric way. Grace was taken away from us in the most brutal fashion a year ago and our lives and family have been ripped apart. This will be with us for the rest of our lives’.

He added: ‘The verdict of murder today will be welcomed by every member of the Millane family and friends of Grace.  It will not reduce the pain and suffering we have had to endure over the past year’.     

Grace Millane (pictured) was on a round-the-world trip when she died on the eve of her 22nd birthday last December

Jesse Kempson, 27, (above) was today found guilty of her murder in Auckland

Grace Millane (pictured) was on a round-the-world trip when she died on the eve of her 22nd birthday last December – the 27-year-old man who killed her was found guilty of murder today. He will be sentenced in February 21 2020

Speaking outside court, his voice breaking with emotion, David Millane broke down as he remembered Grace as a 'beautiful, loving, talented daughter'

Speaking outside court, his voice breaking with emotion, David Millane broke down as he remembered Grace as a ‘beautiful, loving, talented daughter’

Grace's parents sat through the entire three-week trial where their daughter's killer told lie after lie, which the jury saw through

Grace’s parents sat through the entire three-week trial where their daughter’s killer told lie after lie, which the jury saw through

Harrowing CCTV shows smiling Grace entering the hotel holding the hand of her killer Kempson where he would take her life in his apartment

Harrowing CCTV shows smiling Grace entering the hotel holding the hand of her killer Kempson where he would take her life in his apartment

CCTV footage from inside the hotel lift captured the last time Grace was seen alive not knowing she was in the company of a murderous pervert

CCTV footage from inside the hotel lift captured the last time Grace was seen alive not knowing she was in the company of a murderous pervert

Graduate Grace died on December 2, her 22nd birthday, after going home with the murderer who she met on Tinder while on a dream post-graduate backpacking holiday, travelling in Auckland, New Zealand.  

Grace’s final hours on the Tinder date that led to her death 

December 1, 2018

5.45pm: Grace Millane was shown arriving in front of the casino’s 20 foot tall Christmas tree, where she stood waiting for her date. She sends a picture of the tree to her parents in Essex. He arrives and they hug.

6pm: The two of them walk into the casino and find Andy’s Burger Bar.He and Grace were seen ordering drinks and finding a table.

7.12pm: The couple left the burger bar and cross the road into the Mexican cafe where they spend the next hour until the defendant came pay the bill with her standing beside him.

8.27pm: The pair were filmed in the distance crossing Albert Street and moving ever closer to the killer’s home. They headed into the Bluestone Room where the accused had earlier been drinking beer alone. They kiss

9.41pm: CCTV shows the couple entering the hotel where the killer was living. They enter the lift and head to the killer’s apartment. In the hours that followed she was brutally murdered, possibly in the early hours of December 2, her birthday.

The jury at Auckland High Court pronounced their verdict after little more than five hours deliberations at the end of a three-week trial. 

At 5.45pm local time, they filed into the jury box. smartly-dressed Kempson remained impassive before he was led away to the cells. 

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He was then brought back to the dock, wearing a dark suit and black open necked shirt, to be told by Judge Simon Moore that he would be sentenced on February 21 next year. 

Grace’s mother Gill’s silently sobbed as the verdict was read but recovered her composure to be comforted by her husband David, a property developer from Wickford, Essex.   

Mr Millane thanked the police and prosecutors, who he said had ‘never flinched away from the more intimate details of the case’ and were ‘compassionate and thoughtful’ to the family.

He continued: ‘Last but not least we would like to thank the people of New Zealand.

‘They have opened their hearts to Grace and our family. I cannot express our gratitude enough for all the offers of gifts and kindness that we have received over the last year.

‘Finally, we must return home to try and pick up the pieces of our lives day-to-day without our beloved Grace. Thank you.’

Her death shocked many in New Zealand, which prides itself on welcoming tourists and where many people travel abroad as well. 

Hundreds of people attended candlelight vigils after she died, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke about New Zealanders feeling “hurt and shame” that she was killed in their country.

Tourism is also one of New Zealand’s largest industries, accounting for more than 20 per cent of foreign exchange earnings and about 6 per cent of the overall economy. The case has been closely followed in Britain as well.

Kempson (above) denied murdering Ms Millane (left and right) on December 1 last year, the night before her 22nd birthday

Grace Millane (pictured) was on a round-the-world trip when she died on the eve of her 22nd birthday last December

 Kempson (left) denied murdering Ms Millane ( right) on December 1 last year, the night before her 22nd birthday

This is the moment that the defendant is caught on CCTV smuggling Grace Millane's naked body out of his hotel home in a suitcase on this trolley

This is the moment that the defendant is caught on CCTV smuggling Grace Millane’s naked body out of his hotel home in a suitcase on this trolley

The killer was then seen wheeling the trolley across the lobby of the hotel and out of the door

The killer was then seen wheeling the trolley across the lobby of the hotel and out of the door

A photo issued Auckland City Police showing the use of luminol to highlight the blood stains on the floor of the killer's apartment

A photo issued Auckland City Police showing the use of luminol to highlight the blood stains on the floor of the killer’s apartment

Pictures of the bedroom where Grace was strangled to death during sex were shown to the jury

Pictures of the bedroom where Grace was strangled to death during sex were shown to the jury

Forensic examiners are pictured marking out the area where the suitcase containing Grace's body was buried

Forensic examiners are pictured marking out the area where the suitcase containing Grace’s body was buried 

Shocking pictures played to the jury reveal the moment police discovered the body of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane dumped in this muddy hole in the ground

Shocking pictures played to the jury reveal the moment police discovered the body of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane dumped in this muddy hole in the ground

The guilty verdict brings to an end an 11-month saga of pain for the close-knit family, who waved goodbye to their daughter in October last year as she set out on a world tour after graduating from Lincoln University. 

After spending time in Peru, she arrived in New Zealand in mid-November and arranged her fateful Tinder for the night of December 1, planning to celebrate her 22nd birthday the next day. 

She greeted her killer with a hug, standing beside a Christmas tree in the courtyard of the SkyCity casino. They toured several bars, drinking cocktails and, as she told one of her best friends in a text message, she was clearly impressed. 

‘I click with him so well,’ she wrote to her friend Ameena Ashcroft. ‘I will let you know what happens tomorrow.’ 

By the morning, however, Grace was lying dead in the £190-a-week third-floor apartment at the CityLife hotel in central where the killer, a local man, lived. 

She had been strangled during sex and the killer had taken a series of intimate photographs of her naked body before watching hardcore pornography through the early hours. 

The man began December 2, Grace’s 22nd birthday, by buying a suitcase to transport her body to a shallow grave in remote bushland. 

5.45pm, December 1 2018: CCTV footage shown to jurors the defendant (whose face is obscured) walked into view and open his arms for a hug with Grace Millane as they met for the first time on December 1 in Auckland, New Zealand

5.45pm, December 1 2018: CCTV footage shown to jurors the defendant (whose face is obscured) walked into view and open his arms for a hug with Grace Millane as they met for the first time on December 1 in Auckland, New Zealand

6pm: The CCTV footage followed the couple through their date, including their first stop: A casino containing Andy's Burger Bar

6pm: The CCTV footage followed the couple through their date, including their first stop: A casino containing Andy’s Burger Bar

8.30pm: the pair (seen stood at right-hand end of the bar) were paying after spending an hour at the Mexican Cafe

8.30pm: the pair (seen stood at right-hand end of the bar) were paying after spending an hour at the Mexican Cafe

8.45pm: Three hours after their first meeting Miss Millane and the defendant are shown kissing repeatedly in Auckland's Bluestone Bar, where her killer was drinking before the date

8.45pm: Three hours after their first meeting Miss Millane and the defendant are shown kissing repeatedly in Auckland’s Bluestone Bar, where her killer was drinking before the date

9.40pm: Just over an hour later Grace Millane and the defendant leave the lift at the hotel where he lived and head for room 308. The footage is the last time she was seen alive

But even before he did so, he was arranging another Tinder date for that afternoon, in which he told a woman a bogus story about a supposed friend who had killed a woman during sex. 

He was first snared by a message he left on Grace’s Facebook profile page the night before, as he waited to leave the Bluestone Room bar around the corner. 

Contacted by police, he wove an elaborate web of lies, at first claiming he and Grace had parted as friends, planning to meet the next day. 

Trapped by CCTV showing him buying the suitcase, however, he changed his story, claiming Grace had told him she had learned BDSM sex games with a former boyfriend and had asked him to choke her during intercourse. 

He said they had each taken photographs of each other’s private parts on their cellphones and that after sex he had fallen asleep, drunk, under the shower without suspecting Grace was in danger. 

His lies were exposed by data recovered from his mobile phone which showed he had searched for ‘Waitakere Ranges’, the hills where he later buried Grace, and ‘hottest fire’, minutes before taking the photos of her. 

That, the verdict confirmed, was proof that, as Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey had told the jury, he had ‘eroticised her death.’ 

‘It’s not safe sex play that killed Grace Millane, it’s strangulation,’ said Mr Dickey. ‘At some point of which she lost consciousness and would have become limp and lifeless and he had to carry on. 

‘And if that’s not reckless murder someone will have to explain to me what is.’ 

A video of the killer's (left) interview with police was played to jurors at Auckland High Court in New Zealand today. A photograph of Grace lay on the table in front of him

A video of the killer’s (left) interview with police was played to jurors at Auckland High Court in New Zealand today. A photograph of Grace lay on the table in front of him

Chief defence lawyer Ian Brookie listens to Justice Simon Moore as he addresses the jury at Auckland High Court

Chief defence lawyer Ian Brookie listens to Justice Simon Moore as he addresses the jury at Auckland High Court

Justice Simon Moore speaks to the jury as he sums up the case at Auckland High Court today

Justice Simon Moore speaks to the jury as he sums up the case at Auckland High Court today

How marketing graduate Grace Millane’s last act of kindness was to cut off her flowing locks and send them to a charity that makes wigs for sick children before she set off on year-long trip around the world

British backpacker Grace Millane was a young woman with the world at her feet. 

She dedicated her spare time to helping charities close to her heart, and had saved her money to pay for a round-the-world trip after studying hard for three years and graduating from the University of Lincoln with a Bachelor’s degree. 

But she was killed on the eve of her 22nd birthday, by failed salesman and amateur softball player, Kempson.

Grace Emmie Rose Millane, from Wickford in Essex, had graduated with a degree in advertising and marketing, and waved goodbye to her family as she embarked on a world tour. 

She was just six weeks into it when her life was cruelly cut short. 

Before she travelled abroad, she cut off her long hair and donated it to the Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs for children who have lost their hair because of cancer.

As they laid her to rest, Ms Millane’s family asked for any donations to be made to charities close to her heart – The Little Princess Trust, White Ribbon UK, Mutts in Distress and Smile Train.  

Grace had spent six weeks in South America and Peru, arriving in New Zealand on 20 November 2018 and travelling around the upper North Island.

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She arrived in Auckland on 30 November – two days before she was killed. 

She had also been planning a second long-haul trip to Asia. 

Grace's mother Gillian is recovering from a breast cancer operation, which stopped her from flying to New Zealand to join the search for her daughter's body. Grace posted this heartwrenching picture of her in September 2011, captioning it, 'Me and Mummy Millane'

Grace’s mother Gillian is recovering from a breast cancer operation, which stopped her from flying to New Zealand to join the search for her daughter’s body. Grace posted this heartwrenching picture of her in September 2011, captioning it, ‘Me and Mummy Millane’

Grace pictured in April 2017

Grace is pictured here in September 2016, in front of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge

Left, Grace in April 2017. Right, Adventure-loving Grace is pictured here in September 2016, in front of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge

The Millanes: (L-R) father David, brother Michael, mother Gillian, brother Declan and Grace, who died in Auckland, New Zealand in December last year

The Millanes: (L-R) father David, brother Michael, mother Gillian, brother Declan and Grace, who died in Auckland, New Zealand in December last year 

Declan Millane posted this photo after his little sister's death. He wrote: 'You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away'

Declan Millane posted this photo after his little sister’s death. He wrote: ‘You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away’

Her father David, 60, said in an interview that he hoped his daughter's death would 'not deter even one person from venturing out into the world'

Her father David, 60, said in an interview that he hoped his daughter’s death would ‘not deter even one person from venturing out into the world’

Pictured: Ms Millane

Grace Millane (pictured) was on a round-the-world trip when she died on the eve of her 22nd birthday last December

Kempson denied murdering Ms Millane (left and right) on December 1 last year, the night before her 22nd birthday

Grace's parents sat through the entire three-week trial where their daughter's killer told lie after lie, which the jury saw through

Grace’s parents sat through the entire three-week trial where their daughter’s killer told lie after lie, which the jury saw through

She leaves behind her mother and father Gillian and David, and big brothers Michael, 29, and Declan, 26. 

Her family said the ‘beautiful’ 22-year-old had a ‘passion to see the world’ and even had a trip to the Far East planned.   

Her mother Gillian is currently recovering from a breast cancer operation and was unable to join the hunt for their daughter’s body in New Zealand because of the procedure.

Her father David, 60, said in an interview that he hoped his daughter’s death would ‘not deter even one person from venturing out into the world’.

Mr Millane added: ‘We all fly the nest. Her death should not deter any man or woman from following their dreams.’ 

Mr Millane runs a family construction business with Miss Millane’s brothers, Michael and Declan. 

In an emotional tribute after her death, Grace’s big brother Declan posted a heartfelt note to his sister, quoting the words of a famous 1940 song by Jimmie Davis.

‘You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.’  

Little Grace with her big brothers Michael and Declan. In an emotional tribute after her death, Declan posted a heartfelt note to his sister, quoting the words of a famous 1940 song by Jimmie Davis

Little Grace with her big brothers Michael and Declan. In an emotional tribute after her death, Declan posted a heartfelt note to his sister, quoting the words of a famous 1940 song by Jimmie Davis

Grace Emmie Rose Millane, from Wickford in Essex, had a 'passion to see the world'

Grace Emmie Rose Millane, from Wickford in Essex, had a ‘passion to see the world’

Speaking outside court, his voice breaking with emotion, David Millane broke down as he remembered Grace as a 'beautiful, loving, talented daughter'

Speaking outside court, his voice breaking with emotion, David Millane broke down as he remembered Grace as a ‘beautiful, loving, talented daughter’

In October, Grace’s family and friends filled donated handbags with essential and luxury items and gave them to homeless women in refuges in a bid to help victims of domestic abuse.  

Her cousin Hannah O’Callaghan said the family had wanted to do something in her name to ‘give her a legacy’.

She said the idea started out when they saw a social media post about filling a handbag with items for homeless women.

Mrs O’Callaghan, 37, said: ‘We thought it was a great idea and thought ‘how could we do something similar in Grace’s name?’ It helps that Grace loved a handbag.’

More than 500 bags were donated to the campaign, called Love Grace x, exceeding the family’s initial target of 50. 

Mrs O’Callaghan said: ‘It has been extremely difficult as a family and doing something like this is helping us get together, giving us something to focus on and it is helping others, which is all we can hope to achieve out of what we have been through.’

The appeal continues to be inundated with donations and there are four collection points for Love Grace x across Essex at Club Kingswood in Basildon, The Fox and Hounds Pub in Ramsden Heath, The Pyramid Centre in Thurrock and Hemming Too Stores in Ramsden Bellhouse.