Grace Millane murder detectives find shovel linked to British backpacker’s death

A shovel sought by New Zealand police investigating the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane has been found.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said the tool was recovered by officers earlier this morning, as a result of intensive examination of CCTV footage.

It was located and seized in the central West Auckland area.

Cops had been searching for a shovel they said could be linked to the 22-year-old’s death.

On Tuesday, police issued a public appeal for anyone who may have found the shovel – describing it as an ‘Atlas Trade Hardwood Long Handle Round Mouth Shovel’ – anytime after December 3.

Yesterday police announced Ms Millane’s body had been formally identified and returned to her family.

Det Ins Beard said: "Work continues to piece together exactly what happened to Grace, as we build a timeline of the circumstances."

Officers said they have received "hundreds" of calls about the case.

A 26-year-old man has been charged with Ms Millane’s murder and he was remanded in custody after a court hearing in Auckland on Monday.

Police initially launched a missing person inquiry for the University of Lincoln graduate after her parents became concerned that she did not reply to birthday wishes sent on December 2.

Since arriving in New Zealand from Peru on November 20, she had been in near-daily contact with her family, officers said.

The last confirmed sighting of Ms Millane, from Essex, was at 9.41pm on December 1, at the Citylife Hotel, when she was seen with a "male companion".

A week later, on December 8, police said they were treating the case as a homicide investigation and a day later a body was found in the Waitakere Ranges 10 metres away from the road.

Det Ins Beard revealed Grace’s body was found "intact".

On Monday, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern gave an emotional apology to Ms Millane’s family, saying: "Your daughter should have been safe here, and she wasn’t, and I’m sorry for that."

Ms Millane’s family said they have had their "whole world turned upside down".

Her family said: "Grace went off to travel the world in mid-October and arrived in New Zealand on the 20th November.

"By the amount of pictures and messages we received, she clearly loved this country, its people and the lifestyle.

"We all hope that what has happened to Grace will not deter even one person from venturing out into the world and discovering their own OE (overseas experience)."

Calling the crime "heinous", the family also paid tribute to investigating officers for completing a "concise, stringent and thorough investigation".

They added: "We would like to thank the people of New Zealand for their outpouring of love, numerous messages, tributes and compassion.

"Grace was not born here and only managed to stay a few weeks, but you have taken her to your hearts and in some small way she will forever be a Kiwi."

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