Grace Millane’s dad died a month before killer Jesse Kempson was finally unmasked as family vow never to speak his name

THE dad of murdered backpacker Grace Millane tragically died after a secret battle with cancer just a month before her depraved killer was finally unmasked.

But David Millane's grieving family refuse to utter the name of multiple sex offender Jesse Kempson – the murderer whose name suppression has now been lifted in New Zealand.

The Millane family have declared they "do not think about him or speak his name".

David, 62, who faced down his daughter’s killer in a New Zealand court in early 2020, passed away in November after his cancer spread – in a second heartbreaking blow for the family.

He died nearly two years after his treasured daughter was brutally slain in New Zealand.

David had been diagnosed with terminal cancer after spending almost three weeks in Auckland at the trial for his daughter's killer, reported Newstalk ZB.

The family wrote on Instagram last month: "We are heartbroken by the loss of David and he will be deeply missed."

Detective Inspector Scott Beard, who led the murder investigation, said: "The Millane family had their lives turned upside down when David's much loved and cherished daughter Grace was murdered while visiting New Zealand in December 2018.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with Gillian, Michael, Declan, and the rest of their whanau [family]."

His death was further heartache for the tragedy-hit family, which had also supported Grace’s mum Gillian through her own cancer fight.

The family of Wickford, Essex, were forced to endure devastating details of Grace’s murder after she was lured to a hotel, throttled during sex then buried in a suitcase in woodland by twisted Kempson.

To use his name shows we care and gives him the notoriety he seeks. We instead choose to speak Grace's name.

The perverted killer, who New Zealand's Supreme Court ruled can now be named, was convicted of murdering Grace in Auckland after meeting her via Tinder.

The 28-year-old has since been convicted of further violent offences in two recent trials, including raping another woman he met on Tinder.

Kempson, who opted for the trials in October and November to be heard before a judge, was convicted of rape last month.

He was also convicted of threatening to kill, two charges of assault with a weapon, three assaults and two counts of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection at a trial in October, court documents say.

Kempson was allowed to keep his name secret through the court proceedings as his defence counsel argued naming him would prevent him from getting a fair trial.

The Supreme Court has now allowed his name to be made public.

It said: "The orders suppressing the name of the applicant in relation to his conviction for the murder of Ms Millane and his October and November convictions now lapse."

Details of the cases and their links to Grace's death can only be reported after Kempson failed in a bid to overturn his murder conviction and sentence at New Zealand’s Court of Appeal.

Its ruling on Friday, and a final decision from the Supreme Court today, allowed New Zealand media to finally reveal the killer’s identity.

Grace's family said not naming Kempson had "allowed people to remember Grace – a young, vibrant girl who set out to see the world, instead of the man who took her life".

They said: "To use his name shows we care and gives him the notoriety he seeks.

"We instead choose to speak Grace's name."

Family of Grace Millane comment on killer Jesse Kempson losing his appeal

Kempson was convicted by a jury in November 2019 and jailed in February for at least 17 years for Grace Millane’s murder.

In sentencing, Justice Simon Moore told Kempson his actions amounted to "conduct that underscores a lack of empathy and sense of self-entitlement and objectification".

On Friday, December 18, the judges upheld that saying: "Ms Millane was particularly vulnerable, being intoxicated, in a strange apartment, naked, in the arms of a comparative stranger with whom she thought she could trust, and with his hands around her throat".

After it was upheld, the New Zealand Police force issued a statement from the Millane family, who said they were "pleased at the outcome that has been reached" in the loss of the appeal.

The family thanked the police, judges, prosecutors and the people of New Zealand and said "Grace, you are, and will always be, our sunshine."

They added: "Grace was a kind, fun-loving daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, aunty, cousin and friend with her whole life ahead of her.

"She was enjoying the first of what would have been a lifetime of adventures before her life was so cruelly and brutally cut short by her murderer.

"Her sense of fun, her sense of adventure, her love of travel and exploring, along with her ability to light up any room she walked into it with her generosity of spirit, are memories we as a family cherish and how we will forever remember her."

Grace had graduated with a marketing degree from the University of Lincoln in September and went travelling on October 26, 2018.

She arrived in New Zealand alone on November 19, 2018, and was last seen on Saturday, December 1, 2018, the eve of her 22nd birthday.

But alarms bells rang when she failed to respond to birthday well-wishes on December 2.

David Millane flew to New Zealand from the family’s home in Essex after Grace disappeared while staying at the £10-a-night Base Backpackers on Queen Street, a popular location for travellers in central Auckland.

Before Grace's body was found, her doting dad had made an emotional appeal for help, describing his then missing daughter as a "lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-orientated daughter".

Grace's devastated mum, Gillian Millane, was recovering from surgery for cancer at the time of the tragedy and had to stay in the UK.

The Brit's death shocked many in New Zealand, a country which prides itself on welcoming tourists.

Her dad was given a traditional Maori blessing at the site where her body was found in bushes 30 feet from the road in the Waitakere Ranges, just outside the city.

Then aged 60, David took part in the poignant ceremony alongside Grace's uncle and members of the New Zealand Police force.

In line with tradition, it was held to remove a tapu, or curse – to remove the evil spirits and put a person at peace – on the area where her slain body was dumped.

Grace's family said at the time that their "whole world has been turned upside down".

Months later, a cop who caught Grace's evil killer recalled seeing the backpacker's heartbroken dad "crumbling" after her murder.

DI Scott Beard, who led the murder investigation, said: "Every day he'd [David Millane] come to my office, every day we had a chat, sometimes I went and saw him at the hotel.

"I just saw this really strong man, father figure, head of the family crumbling – and that's tough."

The police officer spent hours with Mr Millane after his daughter's body was found in a suitcase buried in the woods.

DI Beard added: "It was so emotional . . . his wife's on the other side of the world with cancer, he's just been told we've found his daughter murdered… yeah, how do you react to that?

"You're numb, maybe you're expecting that at some stage but it still hurts."

He said it gave him 'great satisfaction' to find Grace's body to provide her family with some closure.

Beard was himself diagnosed with prostate cancer after travelling to the UK for Grace's funeral in January 2019.

When Kempson was caged for her murder, Justice Simon Moore told the callous killer: "You were a stranger, she trusted you.

"You are a large and powerful man, she was diminutive.

"You were in a position of total physical dominance."

Now that Kempson's name has been revealed, police have urged any more possible victims to come forward.

DI Beard said the "callous, narcissistic" serial sex offender may have more victims.

"There could well be other women out there who Grace's killer may have offended against," he told TVNZ.

"If they're not sure what to do, come to the police and speak to us."






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