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New Zealand jury finds 27-year-old man guilty of murder of British backpacker

A 27-year-old New Zealand man has been found guilty of the murder of Grace Millane, a British backpacker who vanished last December, according to CNN affiliate Sky News Australia.

Millane was last seen in the center of Auckland, a major city on New Zealand’s North Island, on December 1. Her body was subsequently found by police in a wooded area in the Waitakere Ranges, west of the city.

The man, whose name is under a court suppression order, is ruled to have deliberately killed the 21-year-old in his hotel room in Auckland last December.

The pair met on a dating app and visited several bars before going to his hotel, according to Sky News Australia.

Sky News Australia reported that the convicted man’s lawyers had argued Millane’s death was accidental, and occurred during consensual “rough sex.”

The jury deliberated for four hours before returning a verdict, according to Sky News Australia.

Millane’s family said the backpacker set off to travel the world last October, arriving in New Zealand on November 20.

“Grace started this travel journey in Peru in South America and was really looking forward to the second leg in New Zealand. She arrived here on the 20th of November and has bombarded us with numerous photographs and messages of her adventures,” her father David said while appealing for information of her whereabouts in December.

After her body was found, the family thanked the country’s people for their compassion.

“By the amount of pictures and messages we received she clearly loved this country, its people and the lifestyle,” the family said in a statement released by New Zealand Police in mid-December.

“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,” the statement continued.

“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 overseas experience,” the family added.

The 27-year-old is expected to be sentenced early next week, Sky News Australia reports.

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