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The mother of British backpacker Grace Millane tore into her daughter's killer while reading a victim impact statement, telling the man “she died terrified and alone in your room.”
Gillian Millane appeared via video in a New Zealand courtroom to read a statement Friday during the sentencing of the 22-year-old girl's killer, according to BBC News. The killer, 28, has not been publicly identified — in accordance with New Zealand law — and was sentenced to life in prison.
The man was found guilty of murder in late November after three weeks at trial. The verdict was reached after five hours of deliberation by a jury consisting of seven women and five men.
"I am absolutely heartbroken that you have taken my daughter's future and robbed us of so many memories that we were going to create," Gillian Millane said.
"The tears I shed are never-ending at the thought of never having the chance to kiss my Grace goodbye," she continued. The killer held his head in his hands as he listened to the impact statement, according to the BBC.
Fresh out of college, Millane was traveling around the world on her own before her slaying. She had just spent six weeks in South America before traveling to New Zealand, where she met her killer on the dating app Tinder.
After a night drinking with the man, Millane was last seen alive on CCTV footage heading into the his hotel room on Dec. 1, 2018. Her body was later found stuffed inside a suitcase and buried in a shallow grave in the Waitakere Ranges, a mountainous area near Auckland.
The killer's attorneys had claimed Millane accidentally died from consensual rough sex when “acts designed to enhance sexual pleasure went wrong." However, prosecutors argued the man strangled Millane to death — and soon after began alternately searching online for pornography and ways to dispose of her body. He even took photos of her dead body, authorities said.
A forensic pathologist who testified for the prosecution, had previously argued it would have taken about five to 10 minutes for Millane to have died from choking and noted that before dying she would have passed out first.
“You can’t consent to your own murder,” crown prosecutor Brian Dickey previously said. “This isn’t a little bit of sex gone wrong […] because the person doing that must have known that they were hurting her, causing her harm, that might well cause her death, but they were reckless and carried on, and she died.”
The killer's actions were "conduct that underscores a lack of empathy and sense of self-entitlement and objectification," Justice Simon Moore said Friday according to the BBC. "You are a large and powerful man. She was diminutive. You were in a position of total physical dominance."
The killer will not be eligible for release from prison for 17 years. The suppression order which prevents naming the defendant would stay in place indefinitely until lifted by the court, Moore ordered.
"I want you to know I don't think of you," Gillian Millane told the killer. "Because if I did that means I care about you. And I simply don't."
"I will miss my darling Grace ... until the last breath of my body leaves me," she said.
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