Andrew Little's warning over Grace Millane accused

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 11 December 2018, 8:01a.m.

Justice Minister Andrew Little is urging people to follow name suppression laws in the Grace Millane murder trial, saying "if we want justice to be done for the Millane family we have to follow these rules".

This comes after news the man accused of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane will keep his identity hidden until at least early next year which has sparked public outrage. 

The man appeared in court yesterday where an application for interim name suppression was declined by Judge Thomas and opposed by the Millane family, police and the collective press.

However, his lawyer, Ian Brookie instantly indicated he would appeal Judge Thomas' decision not to grant name suppression for his client, which automatically imposed a 20 working day suppression order under New Zealand law.

Justice Minister Andrew Little told Kate Hawkesby there is a presumption against name suppression but ultimately it's about making sure everyone gets a fair trial.

"This issue has been argued over the last few years, it's quite controversial but the High Court Judge will have to consider what is needed to make sure this chap gets a fair trial and if he or she decides that in order for a fair trial he should continue to have name suppression, then he will get it and if he thinks that it is possible to have a fair trial without it then presumably the suppression will be lifted."

Little said this case has so much public attention which could make a fair trial difficult.

"We've all followed the news and then saw the absolute tragedy on the weekend. It's hard not to feel what the family is going through but really if we want justice to be done we need to leave the police to do their job, continue to gather the evidence."

"We want the police to be able to present the strongest possible case and part of presenting the strongest possible case is that there is nothing that the defence can rely on that can upset the trial or allow him to walk away scot-free."

"For people who are feeling really emotional about it, I think it's important that if we want justice to be done for the Millane family, we have got to let the police and authorities and the judicial system do its job to ensure we have the best chance of a conviction."

The Justice Minister stressed that disclosing suppressed information is a crime and can hurt the trial.

"If the police found somebody in New Zealand disclosed the details to an overseas website, then actually the person here is committing an offence -it's contempt of court and they could be dealt with as well."

"These rules are in place for a reason, it seems a bit odd sometimes and people do want to know names and who is being charged, but the rule at the moment is that this guy has name suppression and he's entitled to it."

"There's a chance that maybe he's not the right person. If we want to do the best for the Millane family and for them to know that New Zealand is a place where justice is done we have to follow these rules."

Millane's body was found just 10m off Scenic Drive in West Auckland's Waitakere Ranges on Sunday - a week after her 22nd birthday.

A post mortem examination was conducted yesterday but the results would not be released by police.

However, court documents viewed by the Herald indicate police believe Millane was killed between December 1 and 2.

The man accused of killing her will keep his identity hidden until at least early next year.

An application for interim name suppression was declined by Judge Thomas and opposed by the Millane family, police and the collective press.

Judge Evangelos Thomas said:
Judge Evangelos Thomas said: "All of us hope that justice for Grace is fair and swift." Photo / Michael Craig

Brookie, however, instantly indicated he would appeal Judge Thomas' decision not to grant name suppression for his client, which automatically imposed a 20 working day suppression order under New Zealand law.

The barrister also opposed several applications from international media to film the accused.

But Judge Thomas granted the media's applications, and told the defendant: "As you will know the allegations that you face and the background to them have been the source of much media coverage over the last eight or nine days.

"If you do go to trial it will be some time away, a lot of water will have passed under the bridge."

The accused, who did not apply for bail, was remanded in custody without plea until his next appearance in the High Court on January 23.

Grace Millane was last seen on CCTV entering CityLife Hotel in central Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring
Grace Millane was last seen on CCTV entering CityLife Hotel in central Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring

The court appearance came just a day after the top cop in charge of the investigation, Detective Inspector Scott Beard, was visibly emotional as he addressed the media and revealed her body had been found.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also choked up as she spoke of the case yesterday afternoon.

Millane, who recently graduated from university, came to New Zealand as part of a year-long solo OE.

She arrived in Auckland just days before she was killed. Millane was last seen on CCTV on December 1 entering CityLife Hotel with the murder accused.

Last night police said the Millane family did not wish to comment further but were aware of several vigils organised around the country.

David Millane, the father of Grace Millane, flew into Auckland last Friday and made a tearful plea for anyone who knew anything to contact police. Photo / Doug Sherring
David Millane, the father of Grace Millane, flew into Auckland last Friday and made a tearful plea for anyone who knew anything to contact police. Photo / Doug Sherring

"The Millane family are very grateful for the kind thoughts and give their blessing to these vigils, but have respectfully declined to attend," a police spokesperson said.

The police's investigation, code-named Operation Gourami, remains in its infancy and officers have more work ahead. A scene examination at Scenic Drive will continue today, and there are renewed calls from police for anyone who saw a 2016 red Toyota Corolla hatchback.

Herald cartoonist Rod Emmerson's view. Cartoon / Rod Emmerson
Herald cartoonist Rod Emmerson's view. Cartoon / Rod Emmerson

The car was rented and returned to a central Auckland rental car company last Monday at lunchtime.

Police said last night the vehicle was located in Taupo but not driven there by her alleged killer.

"It was then hired by persons unrelated to the investigation, who travelled to Taupo in the vehicle. Police then identified the car as a vehicle of interest on Saturday December 8, at which time it was located and seized," a police spokesman said.

Overnight Talk

Overnight Talk

12a.m. - 5a.m.