Grace Millane: What will happen at murder accused's court appearance?

2019-01-15 06:20:04

The man accused of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane will appear at the High Court in Auckland on Wednesday for the first time.

Millane, 22, was reported missing at the start of December by her family.

A police investigation was launched, which eventually led officers a week later to a remote location in the Wāitakere Ranges where her body was discovered.

A 26-year-old man was charged with murder following the discovery and appeared at the Auckland District Court on December 10, where he was granted interim name suppression.


At his first court appearance, Judge Evangelos Thomas refused to give the man name suppression.

But interim name suppression was automatically granted after his lawyer Ian Brookie signalled an appeal.

A number of international media organisations went on to name the accused but New Zealand media remains bound by the court order.

On Wednesday, the man's interim name suppression is expected to continue until either his lawyer Ian Brookie files an appeal or it times out.

He has until the end of January to file the appeal.


The man could enter a plea of guilty or not guilty – or not enter a plea at all.

Whatever his plea, he will likely be remanded in custody, meaning he will remain in prison.

If he pleads guilty, a sentencing date will be set and a series of reports compiled which will help the judge assess what the sentence should be.

A conviction for murder carries an automatic life sentence unless manifestly unjust.

If he pleads not guilty to the charge of murder, a date will be set for a prospective trial at the High Court. That could take place later this year.

During any trial, the onus of proof is on the prosecutors to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the accused is guilty.

If no plea is entered it is usually because a lawyer does not have enough information to be able to give advice to their client.

Sometimes this is because the Crown has not yet provided witness statements and other evidence that makes up its case.

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