As the family of slain tourist Grace Millane prepare to take her body home, a relative of her alleged killer has made an impassioned plea for people to reserve judgment.

The British woman was killed on the weekend of her 22nd birthday, just a day after arriving in Auckland as part of a year-long solo OE.

Millane was last seen going into a central Auckland hotel the night of December 1.

The 26-year-old man she went to the hotel with has been charged with murder and appeared in the Auckland District Court on Monday.


He was refused name suppression by Judge Evangelos Thomas, but is appealing that decision, meaning the Herald cannot identify him, or specific details about him while interim name suppression is in place.

Today a relative of the accused, who also cannot be identified for legal reasons, posted a lengthy statement online.

Grace Millane was allegedly murdered the weekend of her 22nd birthday. Photo / Facebook
Grace Millane was allegedly murdered the weekend of her 22nd birthday. Photo / Facebook

It is the second statement the relative has made since the arrest.

The first was published on Monday and demanded people stop trying to make contact.

The relative stated they had been overwhelmed with people messaging and asking questions after hearing the news of the arrest.

Today the relative spoke out again, stating it would be the only time they publicly addressed the issue.

They said they were sorry for the Millane family's loss and that she didn't deserve what happened to her.

They added that the whole of New Zealand and especially the accused's family were broken-hearted.


The relative said the support they had received was appreciated.

After they learned of the arrest they said they had hardly slept and had bawled their eyes out.

The relative said if the allegations against the accused were proven to be true, they were despicable, atrocious and disgusting.

The statement ended with a tribute to Millane, the relative stating she would forever be in their hearts.

Grace Millane. Photo / Supplied
Grace Millane. Photo / Supplied

This morning police confirmed Millane's body had been released to her family.

Her father David and his brother have been in New Zealand since soon after she was reported missing.

Police said the men were in the process of organising to take their beloved daughter and niece home in the next few days.

The investigation into Millane's death - Operation Gourami - is ongoing and detectives are trying to piece together exactly what happened in the Essex woman's final hours.

Yesterday they addressed public speculation about what happened to Millane and confirmed her body was intact when it was recovered.

They also revealed they were looking for a shovel believed to be related to the inquiry.

Detectives said they wanted to hear from anyone who may have found the shovel - described as an "Atlas Trade Hardwood Long Handle Round Mouth Shovel" - any time after Monday, December 3.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said: "At this point we don't know where this item is. It could be anywhere between the Scenic Drive [Titirangi] and central Auckland areas.

"Someone may have come across it, picked it up and taken it home. We need to speak to that person or anyone who has seen it."