Why isn't Grace Millane's killer Jesse Kempson being named in New Zealand? The reason for his anonymity

Ellena Cruse

It has been more than three months since the killer of British backpacker Grace Millane was convicted of her murder and on Friday he was handed a life sentence, with a minimum term of 17 years, yet New Zealanders still do not know who he is.

It was a crime that shocked the tiny nation, especially because it takes great pride in its international reputation and has an economy that relies heavily on tourism. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern even 'apologised' for the killing.

The trial has received blanket coverage in New Zealand, delving deeply into Miss Millane's history and what happened on the night she was killed. Yet the reports all omitted that one key detail: the killer's name Jesse Kempson.


Why was Grace Millane’s killer granted anonymity?

New Zealand's courts have a far more relaxed regime than British courts when it comes to banning the publication of an accused's name.

Jesse Kempson won what is called an interim name supression order at his first hearing back in December 2018. The judge at the Auckland High Court had turned down his application for it but because his defence team appealed, an order was then put in place for 20 working days.

Justice Simon Moore, who ended up presiding over the murder trial, then heard arguments about continuing the order and decided to extend it until further notice.

Expectations that it would be lifted when Kempson was convicted back in November last year, and then when he was sentenced on Friday did not come to fruition.

As it stands, there is still no date when Justice Moore will allow New Zealanders to (legally) know the identity of the killer.

The Uk can name her killer (@millanegrace Instagram)

Under what circumstances can someone be given anonymity?

New Zealand law lists the reasons for not naming a defendant.

The rules dictate that a court has to be satisfied that reveling the identity would cause one of the following outcomes:

• Cause extreme hardship to the person charged.

• Cast suspicion on another person that may cause undue hardship to that person.

• Cause undue hardship to any victim of the offence.

• Create a real risk of prejudice to a fair trial.

• Endanger the safety of any person.

• Lead to the identification of another person whose name is suppressed by order or by law.

• Prejudice the maintenance of the law, including the prevention, investigation, and detection of offenses.

• Prejudice the security or defence of New Zealand.

Why wasn’t the murderer identified when they were convicted or sentenced?

The order remains in place until the judge lifts it. The legal reasons for Justice Moore's decision have been given in court but this too is being kept secret.

What punishments are there for those who breach the order?

Under the Criminal Procedure Act, punishments can include a six-month jail sentence and a fine of up to NZ$100,000 (£49,000).

Police have so far investigated several alleged breaches but only one person has been charged.

Restaurateur Leo Molloy pleaded not guilty to breaching a suppression order. His name has been reported in New Zealand while Kempson's has not.

Has anyone reported his name?

Yes. Some outlets outside of New Zealand, including the Evening Standard, have printed the name of the murderer, as have people on social media.

However, they have not committed an offence because New Zealand's laws only pertain to people or organisations within its legal jurisdiction, despite complaints from the country's justice minister Andrew Little.

Titles, including the Evening Standard, have geo-blocked articles about Kempson to prevent readers in New Zealand being able to read them.

How are things different in the UK?

Defendants are only granted anonymity in a number of instances by British courts, including where they are under 18, because the principle of open justice is one of the foundations of the legal system here.