Grace Millane murder trial: Man accused of murdering British backpacker held previous Tinder date down during sex and she thought she might die, court told

‘I started kicking, trying to indicate I couldn’t breathe. He would have felt me fighting,’ witness says

Samuel Osborne
Monday 11 November 2019 13:21
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Court sees footage of Grace Millane's last hours

A woman who went on a date with the man accused of murdering a British backpacker was held down during their sexual encounter and feared she might die, a court has heard.

The 27-year-old defendant is on trial for allegedly strangling Grace Millane and burying her body inside a suitcase after they met on Tinder on 1 December, 2018, the day before her 22nd birthday.

Another woman who met the man through Tinder told Auckland High Court she struggled to breathe after the suspect pinned her down during sex, by grabbing her arms.

The woman, whose identity cannot be reported, told the court she tried to kick out of the position and then feigned unconsciousness, before managing to catch her breath, reports said.

“This can’t be the way I die”, she said she had thought at the time, according to The Guardian.

Jurors heard the woman met the accused, who cannot be named due to a suppression order, through Tinder in March last year. They went on a second date when the alleged incident occurred in November last year.

It comes after the court heard on Friday that scientific testing showed blood found on the fridge in the man’s apartment was 500,000 million times more likely to belong to Ms Millane than to anyone else.

The defence says the Briton’s death was accidental and occurred during rough sexual intercourse.

Forensic experts told Auckland High Court on Friday that there was evidence Ms Millane’s blood had been cleaned up, which the defendant told police he had done.

DNA expert Turlough Thomas-Stone said “no male DNA was detected” in samples taken from Ms Millane’s fingernails and from the suitcase in which her body was found.

But he added that “damp, moisture, exposure to the elements” can make it more difficult to identify DNA samples taken from grave sites.

“Given the time between the alleged event and the taking of these samples, that could be a potential explanation [for the absence of male DNA],” he added.

On Thursday, jurors were shown security footage of the young victim and the defendant as they drank at various bars throughout the city.

Video clips showed the pair kissing repeatedly at the Bluestone Room before walking arm in arm a short distance into the lobby of the CityHigh hotel where the defendant was staying.

The court heard that data from the man’s phone showed he had used Google to search for large duffel bags, suitcases and car hire.

The defendant’s phone was also used to search for “flesh-eating birds” and “are there vultures in New Zealand?” days after he allegedly killed Ms Millane.

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Records showed the defendant had searched online for “the hottest fire”, “large bags near me” and “Waitakere Ranges” – where Ms Millane’s body was later found contorted inside a suitcase on 9 December last year – before going on another Tinder date later that day.

The trial, which is expected to last for another four weeks, continues.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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