'I am absolutely heartbroken': Gillian Millane gives emotional statement during killer's sentencing

Grace Millane's mother Gillian has given an emotional victim impact statement during the sentencing for her daughter's murderer. 

The 28-year-old killer, who has name suppression, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years in the Auckland High Court on Friday. 

On November 22, 2019 he was found guilty of murdering the 22-year-old tourist in a hotel room.

Gillian Millane told the court, via a video call from the UK, that the pain of losing her daughter was agonising. 

Addressing her daughter's killer directly, Gillian said his "barbaric actions" have ripped her family apart. 

"I am absolutely heartbroken that you have taken my daughter's future and robbed her of so many more memories that we were going to create.

"Your barbaric actions towards my Grace is beyond comprehension. No life sentence you receive today will match the life sentence of my Grace, but I will do my utmost to ensure no other family needs to go through what we have endured." 

Gillian described the guilt and pain she feels when she thinks about Grace’s last moments. 

"Her tragic life cut short by your willful, cruel actions. You took it upon yourself to murder my beautiful Grace, an innocent young lady. On a daily basis, I torment myself over what you did.

"The terror and pain she must have experienced at your hands. As a mother, I would have done anything to change places with her.

"I sit full of guilt, knowing I couldn't help her. She died terrified and alone in a room with you - whose name isn't even spoken amongst our friends and family," she said. 

Gillian said following her daughter's murder, she wanted to take her own life. 

"Last February, I went into a very dark place. I wanted to take my own life.

"The physical and emotional pain was just too much, but how can I add more pain to my already suffering family.

"My family will never be the same. I want you to know that I don't think of you, because if I did that means I care about you and I simply don't."

Gillian was brought to tears while describing how the loss of her daughter affects her daily life.

"I struggle with social situations and still to this day can't have the radio on in fear of hearing a song that reminds me of her."

"I enter a state of panic at the thought of forgetting her smell and so spray her perfume and smell her clothing.

"I cry myself to sleep most nights and struggle to get out of bed most mornings. How am I meant to get up and get on with my morning knowing it is just another day I won't speak to her?"

She said since returning to the UK from New Zealand, her husband David has become extremely unwell which she blames on the grief. 

She told the court Grace was a kind and confident woman who was her "very best friend".

"She was truly beautiful with a smile that would light up any room. Confident, kind, intelligent, with a desire to travel, to meet new people and to see the world."

Gillian also thanked strangers who have shown an "overwhelming" amount of support.

Grace's brother Declan also gave a victim impact statement. He told the court his sister was a "beautiful soul" with a "smile that could light up the room".

He said his family was "ripped apart" when Grace stopped replying to their messages.

"The following weeks were the hardest and worst weeks of my life. I remember taking the phone call from my dad saying Grace's body had been found and I was instantly sick."

"I felt a duty to protect my little sister but there was nothing I could do, I was helpless and lost."

Declan said he hasn't felt whole since her death. He said he will miss his sister for the rest of his life.

"This person didn't just take Grace's life, he took a piece of my life away."

Victoria, who is married to Grace's older brother Michael, also gave a victim impact statement.

She said she was best friends with Grace, describing her as "the little sister I have always longed for".

Victoria said she found out Grace was missing on her husband's birthday. She described the agony of knowing her two-year-old daughter Harper will only know her aunty through photos.

"Harper will never be given the opportunity to make her own memories with her aunty."
She told the killer his actions will "haunt her forever".

Where to find help and support: 

Shine (domestic violence) - 0508 744 633

Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)

Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737

What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)

Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat

Samaritans - 0800 726 666

Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757

Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Shakti Community Council - 0800 742 584