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Grace Millane murder: British backpacker ‘choked to death during sex by Tinder date’

The accused man has pleaded not guilty

The details of Grace Millane's death having been revealed during a court hearing in Auckland, New Zealand yesterday.

The British backpacker was travelling in New Zealand after spending time in South America, and disappeared after going on a Tinder date.

The accused man, 27, faces a murder trial that will last four weeks. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Yesterday, the Auckland court heard the defendant's story.

CW: graphic detail of death, sexual assault, rape

Grace's body was found in December last year after she disappeared whilst travelling around New Zealand.

Robin McCourbrey, who opened the prosecution case in the Auckland high court said: “Only two people know what happened in that room. One of them can’t tell us, and the other hasn’t told the truth about what happened.”

Grace died on the night of her 22nd birthday. She was on a round-the-world trip after finishing her university degree at Lincoln University.

On this night, she met a man, whose name has been suppressed by the court for a Tinder date. At first he claimed that they went for a drink and then went separate ways.

But then at a later interview, the defence claimed they went to his apartment for consensual sex, which "turned violent" when she asked him to strangle her.

He told the police that he took a shower alone after sex with Grace and later went to bed thinking she left his apartment. He told the police he found her body on the floor when he woke up.

It has now been revealed that Grace died from pressure to her neck. The prosecutor said that she took sustained pressure applied at close range. He questioned why someone who saw that this consensual sex act went wrong didn't attempt to resuscitate their partner or call the emergency services.

The accused's lawyer said the death was an accident that happened “during perfect ordinary casual sexual encounter between a young couple who had met up on Tinder."

He said the pair “got on really well” when they went to a few bars in Auckland. Grace had texted a friend in the UK to say the date was with going really well.

The lawyer continued: “An act designed to enhance their sexual pleasure went wrong and she died as a result,” said the lawyer. “That act was done with her knowledge, encouragement, and only with the goal of sexual pleasure in mind.”

The prosecutor told the jury how the accused acted after Grace died. He ran an internet search for the "Waitakere Ranges", a chain of hills in the Auckland region where Grace's body was eventually found, the "hottest fire", watched porn as well as taking photos of Millane as she lay on the floor of his bedroom after she died.

Later that morning, he confirmed another Tinder date for later that day, bought cleaning products and a suitcase. He hired a carpet cleaning machine and a rental car.

Her body was crammed inside a suitcase buried in scrubland outside the city.

The prosecutor told the court that the accused was not distressed by Millane's death. He said: “He calmly, coldly and methodically was trying to break any link between himself and Miss Millane."

The accused's lawyer said that both Grace's past sex life and the accused's would need to be examined. He said it's not to suggest she was to blame, but that her death may not have been murder. As intoxication of both parties may have played a role.

Forty witnesses are due to be called in the trial.

CCTV footage of Grace on her date with the accused will be screened in court today.

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