Grace Millane belonged to BDSM sites and had ex-boyfriend choke her, court hears
She used a system of safe words and signals with an ex-partner
Today, the Auckland High Court heard that British backpacker Grace Millane, who died at the end of a Tinder date last December, belonged to BDSM dating sites and allowed a former partner to choke her during sex.
CW: graphic detail of death, sexual assault, rape
The British backpacker was travelling in New Zealand last December and disappeared after going on a Tinder date. Grace's body was found buried in scrubland outside Auckland.
The accused man, 27, faces a murder trial that will last four weeks. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The defendant claims Grace died accidentally during sex at the end of the Tinder date.
Statements from the police revealed Grace was active on BDSM dating site Whiplr an hour before meeting her the man accused of her murder. She was also a member of FetLife.
Her ex-boyfriend, who is a graduate from the University of Essex, also made a statement at Auckland High Court.
He said the pair always used a system of safe words and signals to make sure Grace was never in danger or hurt.
He said: "When we researched it we knew the word was asphyxiation. Grace and I discussed keeping hands wide and on the side of the neck, never on the front.
"Grace and I would have a safe word most of the time which we had discussed, something like 'turtle' or something ridiculous.
"Grace and I used a tapping practice too. If Grace tapped me three times then it would stop.
"Grace would tap out maybe one in four times. Grace would be sure to do this and I trusted that anytime it was too much for Grace she would do this.
"Grace and I were careful to discuss not only the physical but the psychological aspects to practising BDSM."
Defence barrister, Ron Mansfield, told the jury: "All the evidence shows that Miss Millane was a loving, bright, intelligent young woman and she was.
"That is her reputation and that should be her reputation and her memory at the start of this trial and at the conclusion if it.
"The fact that we need to discuss with you what she liked to do in the bedroom should have no impact on he reputation at all.
"It’s important that we are fully informed. It’s not the time for embarrassment or immaturity.
"If this couple engaged in consensual sexual activity which included pressure being applied to her neck with her consent and that went wrong, that is not murder.
"Death through this mechanism may thankfully be rare but it does happen and sadly it happened here."
Two weeks ago the prosecuting lawyer 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."
Campaign group 'We Can't Consent To This', report on the number of women and girls killed and injured in violence that is claimed to be consensual.
They have found that 59 UK women have been killed by men who claim a "sex game, gone wrong." The write "In the last five years the defence was successful in six of the 14 killings of a woman which reached trial, with the man being found not guilty or receiving a manslaughter conviction. "
They tweeted screenshots of Grace Millane's case, with the words of a US defence lawyer: "If you can convince a jury that the victim was sexually aggressive or kinky, you have them 2/3 of the way toward finding involuntary manslaughter."
— We Can't Consent To This (@Wecantconsentto) November 19, 2019