COMMENT:

Peter McCallion's 23-year-old daughter Alicia was murdered in her sleepout by her former partner in December 2012. In the wake of Grace Millane's death Peter shares his experience as the father of a murdered daughter. He wrote this to warn young women about the types of personalities to be wary of

The day of Grace Millane's vigil was the sixth anniversary of the day I found my 23-year-old daughter murdered in our home. A date I will likely never forget.

Soon after finding her at 7.30am in the morning I had assumed her ex-boyfriend was responsible.

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The day I heard that my daughter had given her boyfriend the boot, about three weeks earlier, a feeling of dread came over me. Although there had not been any violence from her partner towards her I thought he may have the personality to react that way. My daughter did not believe he would hurt her. "He loves me," she had expressed when I asked her if she was worried about him hurting her.

My thoughts were put into doubt when he rang at 8am on December 12 2012 to warn us of his concerns for her safety from a stalker at her work. When I told him it was too late, that she was already dead, he started crying and said he was coming to our house. The police had arrived by then and spoke with him telling him to stay at home.

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He was charged a week later with her murder - the day before her funeral which he was intending to be at. Eighteen months later we would be in the High Court giving evidence and listening to evidence proving him guilty of the crime.

I am writing this to warn young women of the types of personalities to be wary of. These selfish psychopaths are consummate liars, con men. They promise the earth but give nothing. They believe the world owes them a living but don't expect to work for it.

They pick on the vulnerable and become leeches on their income. Dishonesty is second nature. They believe their lies can get them out of any situation because in the past we haven't challenged their lies sufficiently and they may have had a parent who covered up or facilitated their dishonesty. They have superficial charm, grandiose sense of self, are cunning and manipulative, show lack of remorse or guilt, and shallow emotional response.

My daughter's murderer had been a burden on the taxpayer all his life - and now will be a burden for the rest of his life in prison.

Alicia McCallion was murdered by her former partner in December 2012. Photo / Supplied
Alicia McCallion was murdered by her former partner in December 2012. Photo / Supplied

While awaiting the trial I was made aware of the perpetrator's criminal history. Something we and my daughter did not know during the time of their relationship as it had happened before they knew each other.

The signs of psychopathic behaviour were there. I couldn't believe how lightly kidnap and threatening to kill against a former partner had been treated by the courts. Surely one step away from murder or attempted murder.

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There was also a long list of dishonesty offences. He spent more time in jail on remand awaiting the murder trial than the sum total for his previous convictions. If we want to prevent such murders we need to identify these people when they come before the criminal justice system by having a psychological profile assessment done so they can be managed appropriately.

I am now of the opinion that we should have a website that the public can access where perpetrators of certain criminal offences or frequent offenders are registered with their criminal history so fathers, daughters, flatmates etc can check out new people in their lives. Definite evidence of changed behaviour should permit removal from such a register.

During the trial we found out that the offender had been behaving badly in the weeks since the break-up and had told my daughter that he would kill her and any new boyfriend. I wished she had shared this information with me. I would like to think I would have taken action to warn him off. It may have been enough because I believe he thought he could plan the murder to get away with it. Daughters tell your dads or anyone you think can help, if you are threatened this way or there's any other worrying behaviour from men towards you.

In the High Court we got to watch the several hours of the murderer's videotaped voluntary interview with the police made on the day of the murder. He was confident enough to inject himself into the investigation to play his innocence card. It was his lies in the interview and elsewhere which caught him out. His demeanour during the interview was not what you would expect for someone who had just lost the claimed love of his life. There was little definitive forensic evidence to place him at the murder scene.

The event effects on myself and the family were devastating at the time. Stress levels immediately skyrocketed. This severely affected my short-term memory and undermined my confidence. There were many fearful sleepless nights. Any noise had you investigating. Securing doors and windows at night became a nightly routine. Grandchildren were scared to be alone in a room in the house. Victim support literature warns you there may be physical impacts on your health. It is true. It was over two years before I thought I may be on the recovery journey.

The Millane family is now on that long painful journey made more difficult by the distance from home. I hope they don't have to face the ordeal of waiting for and sitting through a defended trial. We feel your pain. A senseless killing of a beautiful creative soul much like my daughter.

I found talking openly and honestly about the events help. My daughter-in-law created a book of memories professionally printed which is a big help for me in preserving her memory. My daughter was a keen gardener and I have tried to keep her garden going, something I had hoped to do together when I observed how happy she looked weeding her garden the weekend before she died.

Grace Millane was killed while in New Zealand as part of her year-long OE. Photo / Supplied
Grace Millane was killed while in New Zealand as part of her year-long OE. Photo / Supplied

A famous poem also helped me. Sent to me by my daughter's former primary teacher. I changed a few words and used it on a plaque posted in her garden. Remember Me by David Harkins.

We thank the NZ Police (Counties Manukau branch), the ESR and other police experts on their methodical professionalism which led to a successful prosecution. We thank the judge for the sensible sentencing. We thank the jury who had to sit through some awful evidence over several weeks, some which I couldn't listen to at the time.

We thank Victim Support, the community for the financial help, my employer for the time off work and family and friends who came to our support, which was unexpected and a very big help in our recovery. I don't know how we could have coped without such help.