Backpacker Grace Millane 'strangled during sex on Tinder date'

6 November 2019, 06:33 | Updated: 6 November 2019, 07:54

Grace Millane died in New Zealand
Grace Millane died in New Zealand. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A court in New Zealand has heard the British backpacker Grace Millane died after being choked during a sexual encounter with her alleged killer.

The court in Auckland heard that Ms Millane's alleged killer went on a Tinder date while her body was still in a suitcase in his hotel room.

Grace Millane's body was found in a forested area outside Auckland, New Zealand, a week after she was last seen at a hotel on December 2.

The 22-year-old, from Wickford in Essex, was on a round the world trip in November last year.

A 27-year-old man, whose name cannot be published for legal reasons, is standing trial accused of her murder at the Auckland' High Court.

Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey said Ms Millane and the defendant met via the dating app Tinder, and they went to a number of bars in Auckland city centre.

He said: "They were plainly comfortable in one another's company that evening," referring to CCTV footage which showed them together.

"From the footage, you'll see them kissing. Both parties probably anticipated sexual activity," he added.

Mr McCoubrey said the defendant lied to police about what occurred when he was first interviewed, telling them he had simply met Ms Millane "for a drink and then parted company".

But he later told them that they had engaged in rough sexual intercourse involving biting and hitting, Mr McCoubrey said.

Afterwards, the defendant allegedly told police he fell asleep in the shower, then woke up and went back to bed.

The defence claims the death was an accident during consensual sex, saying "acts designed to enhance sexual pleasure went wrong."

Grace Millane
Grace Millane. Picture: PA

The prosecutor said that in the hours after Ms Millane died, the defendant engaged in a number of internet searches, including for the area where her body was found.

He also used Google to search for "the hottest fire", he said. "It's plain that Ms Millane is dead at that point," Mr McCoubrey said.

"What (the defendant) is trying to do is find a place to dispose of her body."

"He wasn't distressed or concerned by her death," Mr McCoubrey said, adding that the defendant then began searching pornographic websites.

The defendant then searched for "large bags near me" and "rigor mortis."

The prosecutor added that the defendant "doesn't seem concerned by the dead body in his apartment" as he travelled to nearby Ponsonby Road and went "on another date" later on December 2.

Ms Millane's parents David and Gillian were present in court for the start of the trial, which is due to last five weeks.

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