The 26-year-old man charged with the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane in New Zealand had called her ‘beautiful, very radiant’ just 11 minutes before she was last seen alive.

Jesse Kempson, 26, left the comment on the 22-year-old Essex native’s Facebook profile picture shortly before she was spotted in the company of a man at a hotel in central Auckland on December 1.

Today, Kempson was sat just yards away from members of Ms Millane’s family at his first court appearance in Auckland, during which he was called a ‘scumbag’ from persons in the public gallery.

Speaking to MailOnline as the 26-year-old father-of-one appeared in court, his grandmother described him as ‘a very confused young man’.

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Suspect: Jesse Kempson, seen here in his Facebook profile image (left), and playing softball in 2010 (right), was remanded in custody accused of murdering Grace Millane
Charged: Kempson, 26, is pictured here alongside a policeman on his way to court on Monday, in an image obscured in accordance with New Zealand law
‘Beautiful and radiant’: Kempson, using his first and middle-name on Facebook, described Ms Millane as ‘beautiful and very radiant’ just hours before she disappeared
The body of Grace Millane, 22, pictured right with her family, was discovered on Sunday afternoon as police arrested a 26-year-old suspect over the crime

Ms Millane was a talented artist and would share her work on Instagram. Her final post; a watercolour painting of a skull, carries the eerie caption; ‘Two can keep a secret, if one of them is dead’.

It is a line from the theme song of the TV show Pretty Little Liars, which is centered around the murder of a young woman.

Earlier on Monday, Kempson, whose family live in Wellington, looked gloomy as he sat in the dock in Auckland District Court on Monday, having been led in wearing blue police overalls.


More: ‘Please don’t take my sunshine away’: Grace Millane’s brother releases heartbreaking tribute after a body is found in search for the missing British backpacker – as police charge ‘Tinder date’ with her murder

After 90 minutes standing in the courtroom, he was led back to the cells by prison officers as a man in the gallery shouted ‘scumbag’. Kempson didn’t speak during his appearance and a plea was not entered on his behalf.

Court documents showed the suspect had been living on the same road in Auckland as the hostel Ms Millane disappeared from on Saturday, December 1.

Addressing Ms Millane’s family in court on Monday, Judge Evangelos Thomas said: ‘I don’t know what to say to you at this time, but your grief must be desperate.

‘We all hope justice will be fair and swift and ultimately brings you some peace.’

Kempson will remain in custody, and is scheduled to make his next court appearance on January 23.

Eerie: Ms Millane’s final Instagram post is a painting of a skull, captioned ‘Two can keep a secret, if one of them is dead’
Judge Evangelos Thomas addresses the family of Ms Millane as her suspected murderer appeared in court today
Flowers left at the crime scene by members of the public near where her body was discovered on Sunday morning
Ms Millane, pictured right and left with her mother Gillian. Members of her family appeared in court on Monday alongside her suspected killer
An emotional New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern apologised on behalf of her nation to Grace’s family
The scene where the body of Ms Millane was found by New Zealand police in the Waitakere Ranges outside Auckland

MailOnline can reveal Kempson was in contact with Ms Millane in the hours before she vanished.

On Saturday, December 1, at 9.29pm local time, he commented on a Facebook photograph of Ms Millane, describing her as ‘beautiful, very radiant’.

Ms Millane, from Essex, was last seen in the company of a man at the CityLife hotel in Auckland, not far from the hostel she was staying at, at about 9.40pm on December 1.

Prosecutors claim Kempson killed her on that night, or on Sunday, December 2, which was her 22nd birthday.

Her body was discovered by New Zealand police on Sunday morning after a nationwide search and international outcry over her disappearance.

Kempson’s family has revealed that he was partly raised by his grandparents after his parents split up when he was a young child, and that he had been living with his mother in Sydney as a teenager.

‘He was a nice kid, but he sort of fell out with everybody, which is what happens with broken up marriages,’ his grandfather told Stuff.co.nz.


More: ‘Please don’t take my sunshine away’: Grace Millane’s brother releases heartbreaking tribute after a body is found in search for the missing British backpacker – as police charge ‘Tinder date’ with her murder

Kempson had become estranged from his family in recent years, with his father telling Stuff that he had not spoken to his son for two years because of ‘a difference in opinion on life’.

The 26-year-old is believed to have been living in Sydney, Australia, for several years, and his grandparents said he had fathered a daughter while in Australia but that he is not in a relationship with the mother.

Ms Millane had been travelling New Zealand when she disappeared on December 1. Her body was found more than a week later, on Sunday morning
Police have released photos of this red Toyota Corolla which was rented from an Auckland company for 24 hours and is believed to have been used to transport Ms Millane’s body to where it was found. It was then returned on December 3, and rented out again to persons unrelated to the investigation, and located in the town of Taupo on Saturday 8th December

Yesterday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made an emotional apology on behalf of the country to Grace’s family.

Addressing Ms Millane’s family, she said: ‘I cannot imagine the grief of her family and what they would be experiencing and feeling right now.

‘My thoughts and prayers are with her father David, who is in the country, her mother Gillian, who cannot be here, and her wider family, friends and loved ones.

‘From the Kiwis I have spoken to, there is this overwhelming sense of hurt and shame that this has happened in our country, a place that prides itself on our hospitality, on our manaakitanga [a Maori term meaning kindness and generosity] especially to those who are visiting our shores.’

Her voice cracking with emotion, the PM added: ‘So on behalf of New Zealand, I want to apologise to Grace’s family. Your daughter should have been safe here, and she wasn’t, and I’m sorry for that.’

It remains unclear how Kempson and Ms Millane met or what the possible motive for the killing might be.

Police took the 26-year-old suspect into custody earlier this week and have charged him with Ms Millane’s murder.

The suspect cannot currently be named in New Zealand or on social media due to a court order, the New Zealand Herald reported.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said Ms Millane’s body was found near Scenic Drive, which leads through the Waitakere Ranges, a popular parkland west of Auckland.

She was discovered about ten yards from the side of the road, hidden in bushland, with her body believed to have been taken there in a rented red Toyota Corolla.

The red Toyota was then rented out again to persons unrelated to the investigation, and it was eventually seized by police some 190 miles from Auckland, in the small tourist town of Taupo.

The remains of Ms Millane were found some ten yards from the road. Pictured: A forensics officer at over the scene on Sunday
Police standing guard on a section of Scenic Drive in the Waitakere Ranges as forensics teams investigate the crime scene
David Millane, Grace’s property developer father, broke down in tears as he begged for help finding his backpacker daughter after she vanished in New Zealand, days before her body was found

‘The formal identification process will now take place, however based on the evidence we have gathered over the past few days we expect that this is Grace,’ he said at a press conference near the scene.

‘Obviously this brings the search for Grace to an end. It is an unbearable time for the Millane family and our hearts go out to them.’

More: ‘Please don’t take my sunshine away’: Grace Millane’s brother releases heartbreaking tribute after a body is found in search for the missing British backpacker – as police charge ‘Tinder date’ with her murder

Ms Millane, from Essex, graduated from university in September and had embarked on a year-long worldwide trip.

After visiting Peru, she arrived in New Zealand on November 20 and had been ‘bombarding’ her family with photos as she kept in near-daily contact with her parents and brothers via social media.

Her father, David Millane, said they last had contact on the day she vanished.

Police said they had received dozens of calls to a hotline and more than 25 staff were working on the case, trawling through hours of CCTV footage to trace her movements.



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