The mum of Grace Millane has told how she "would have done anything to change places" with her daughter. 

The man convicted of killing the Wickford backpacker in New Zealand was sentenced to life in jail, with a minimum of 17 years. 

During the sentencing hearing last night (New Zealand time) Gillian Millane spoke directly to her killer, whose name is still subject to a court suppression order.

She said: "Her tragic life, cut short by your wilful, 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 to my Grace.

"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, that I should have been there.

"She died terrified and alone in a room with you.

"You have ripped a hole in my heart, one that will never be repaired.

"You walked into our lives and destroyed Grace, in the pursuit of your own sexual gratification.

Pausing, and visibly upset, she added: "Now my family will never be the same.

"So many other innocent people, including your own family, have had their world destroyed.

"I will miss my darling Grace, until the last breath in my body leaves me."

Grace's brother, David Millane, echoed his mother's sentiments, and said his family had been "ripped apart" when Grace was reported missing on December 2018.

He told the court via the video-link: "The following weeks were the hardest and worst weeks of my life.

"I remember taking the phone call from my dad, telling me that Grace's body had been found, and I just remember I was instantly sick.

"Ever since December 2018, I cannot close my eyes without reliving that month of not knowing what happened to my sister.

"The thought of how scared she must have been (...) I could have done nothing to help her.

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

Grace's killer had admitted to causing her death but said it was an accident and the pair had been engaging in rough sex. 

But speaking on the steps of the court, Detective Inspector Scott Beard, who led the investigation, said he felt "rough sex" should not be considered a defence to murder.

"Strangling someone for five to ten minutes until they die is not rough sex," he said.

"If people are going to use that type of defence, all it actually does is repetitively revictimises the victim and the victim's family.

"In this case, the Millanes have had to sit through a trial for a number of weeks and their daughter's background, rightly or wrongly, was out in the public.

"I don't believe that rough sex should be a defence. I understand why the defence would use it but the bottom line is the individual has killed someone."

During the trial, the jurors heard from forensic experts who examined the accused's apartment for blood stains as well as Miss Millane's body after her death.

They were also shown footage of the woman and the defendant drinking at various bars in Auckland and kissing before they returned to his apartment.

Video footage of her exiting an elevator on the third floor marked the last recorded time Miss Millane was seen alive.

Police officers said phone data showed the killer had used Google to browse websites for large duffel bags, suitcases and car hire after Miss Millane died.

The defendant's phone was also used to search for "flesh-eating birds" and "are there vultures in New Zealand?".

Records showed the defendant had searched online for "the hottest fire", "large bags near me" and "Waitakere Ranges".

The Millane family have now set up a charity in her memory, called Love Grace, where handbags and toiletries are collected for domestic abuse victims.

The project is now running in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Britain.