Top police officer reveals he was diagnosed with cancer amid Grace Millane trial

The police officer who fronted the investigation into the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane has revealed he had cancer during the trial of her killer.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard became a familiar face during Millane's disappearance and the subsequent trial of her murderer. 

He was praised for his work by Millane's father David who said in December he had been "the most measured selfless, human and professional face of Auckland police".

On Wednesday Beard revealed he was diagnosed with prostate cancer when he returned from Millane's funeral in England in 2019. 

"I got a phone call to say I needed to make an appointment within a couple of days. I knew then it would be positive for cancer," he told Police News.

Beard was scheduled for surgery to remove his prostate on July 18. He told his specialist that no matter what he had to be up and about by November 4 - the first day of the trial for Millane's killer.

His surgery had complications but by September Beard was back at work. Despite tiring easily, he ensured he sat beside Millane's mother Gillian throughout the three-week trial.

"When the guilty verdict was announced, it was the most emotional courtroom I have ever been in. Grace's mum and dad were crying, the jury was crying, the media  many of whom were young women were crying, and some of the public and police were in tears too," he said. 

Beard will need blood tests every three months and possibly radiation treatment in the future. He says it's now his mission to make sure men know the importance of getting checked.

 "It's about education and prevention," he told Police News.

 "3500 New Zealand men are diagnosed each year with prostate cancer and 98.4 per cent survive. In the rest of the cases, it hasn't been picked up early enough,

"The message is clear. Get a check-up. It's a simple blood test."