A SHOVEL sought in relation to the Grace Millane murder investigation has been found, say police in Auckland.
Detective Inspector Scott Beard told the New Zealand media today that the item was recovered by detectives earlier this morning, as a result of intensive examination of CCTV footage.
Cops investigating the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane had been searching for a shovel they said could be linked to her death.
Ms Millane, 22, went missing from a hostel in Auckland on December 1 and her body was found in the Waitakere Ranges last Sunday.
In a major breakthrough, the distinctive red shovel was located and seized in the central West Auckland area, reports the New Zealand Herald.
Det Ins Beard said: “Police would like to thank those members of the public who called the 0800 number with various sightings of similar items.”
Police say they are looking for a shovel identical to this one[/caption]
Police had issued a public appeal for anyone who may have found the shovel, described as an “Atlas Trade Hardwood Long Handle Round Mouth Shovel” after Monday December 3.
A 26-year-old man, who cannot be named, has been charged with murder and appeared in an Auckland court on Monday.
Det Ins Beard revealed Grace’s body was found “intact” in an area of bush by Scenic Drive, which runs through the hills.
He said earlier this week that officers were hunting for the long handled shovel and appealed for anyone who may have found it after December 3 to come forward.
“At this point we don’t know where this item is,” had said Mr Beard.
“It could be anywhere between the Scenic Drive 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.”
Officers said they have received “hundreds” of calls about the case and investigators are trying to establish a timeline of events.
They said a “location of interest” was identified after the investigation led them to a spot on Scenic Drive, a country road about 12 miles west of the city centre, on Saturday night.
Mr Beard said investigators had “located a body which we believe to be Grace” about 30 feet from the roadside.
The last confirmed sighting of the University of Lincoln graduate Grace was at 9.41pm on December 1, the day before her birthday, at the Citylife Hotel, when she was seen with a “male companion”.
The crime scene in the Waitakere Ranges, near Auckland[/caption]
Since arriving in New Zealand from Peru on November 20, she had been in near-daily contact with her family in Essex.
Police received a missing person report last Wednesday and began a major search as well as a public campaign that saw dozens of calls made to a helpline.
Grace’s father, David Millane, flew to Auckland and made a public appeal for help finding his daughter, who he described as “lovely, outgoing, fun-loving (and) family-orientated”.
Her brother, Declan Millane, paid tribute by sharing pictures on social media of him and his sister, adding the lyrics of You Are My Sunshine.
David Millane, father of missing backpacker Grace, tearful at a press conference in Auckland, New Zealand[/caption]
He wrote on Instagram: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.
New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern gave an emotional apology to Grace’s family, saying: “Your daughter should have been safe here, and she wasn’t, and I’m sorry for that.”
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“I cannot imagine the grief of her family and what they would be experiencing and feeling right now.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up in Grace’s memory.
Funds raised will be given to Lincolnshire-based cancer charity Candles and the Lucie Blackman trust, who help British crime victims overseas and have supported Grace’s family during this time
It has emerged the man accused of the murder was due to go on a Tinder date on the night Grace was murder but cancelled it.
He is reported to have dated a number of Brit backpackers and liked “the admiration of young females”.
Criminologist Greg Newbold said the suspect, who has not applied for bail, is likely to be the target violence in prison.
“They’ll likely just target him just for what he stands for, irrespective of whether he’s guilty or not,” he told the New Zealand Herald.
“At the moment he’ll be public enemy number one … but you have to remember he hasn’t been tried yet.”