TRAGIC GRACE MILLANE´S PARENTS WEEP AT HARROWING FOOTAGE AT HER AUCKLAND MURDER TRIAL
The parents of tragic British backpacker Grace Millane wept today as horrifying CCTV images of her killer smuggling her body in a suitcase to be buried in a remote woodland grave were shown to a jury in Auckland.
Miss Millane, a graduate from Wickford in Essex, died after a Tinder date with the defendant, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, on 2 December last year.
The man, 27, is accused of pinning down and throttling her for five minutes for his own sexual pleasure after inviting her back to his Auckland apartment the day before her 22nd birthday. He denies murdering her, claiming her death was an accident after she asked him to choke her during sex.
Property developer David Millane, 61, and his wife Gill have sat through every day of the trial which is engrossing New Zealand.
The jury was shown footage of the defendant hiring a car, wheeling a case containing Miss Millane´s lifeless body squeezed into a foetal position out of his hotel and loading it into the boot.
Other images included the suitcase containing their daughter´s body found in mud and leaves, together with footage of her killer going on a date with another woman, and buying a suitcase and shovel that he used to bury Miss Millane in a shallow grave.
Prosecutors say her killer strangled her before burying her naked body in the Waitakere Ranges, near Auckland.
The jury was shown how cameras captured the man transporting her body in a rented red Toyota hatchback.
Earlier he was seen wheeling a luggage trolley into a lift at the CityLife hotel in central Auckland where he lived and going up to his £190-a-week room.
He returned shortly afterwards with the trolley laden with two suitcases, one of which he has since admitted contained Miss Millane´s body folded into a foetal position.
Her parents and the family liaison officer wept as the court was shown the footage.
At this first police interview, the man attempted for more than an hour to convince officers he said goodbye to Miss Mallen after their Tinder date, insisting he went drinking with friends instead.
With a photograph of the young university graduate, then being treated as a missing person, on the table in front of him, he said he had said goodbye to Miss Millane with ‘a hug and a kiss on the cheek’, hoping to see her the next day to celebrate her 22nd birthday.
He was a heavy drinker at weekends, he said, when he tended to “go crazy”, and after sharing cocktails with Miss Millane he had gone to a bar and drunk 10 glasses of Tui beer, paid for in cash, and treated 20 other people to drinks.
He said he became very drunk and has only woken at 10am the following day, when had “a bit of a vomit.” He had tried to text Miss Millane on Tinder the next day but she had unmatched him.
Later that morning he had gone for “a scotch fillet, medium rare, with mushrooms, chips and salad” for breakfast before having a nap and going to meet a friend from work.
The detective questioning told him the search for Miss Millane, whose parents had reported her missing the previous day, was ongoing. He asked the accused if he would provide a voluntary DNA sample.
The man replied:”100 per cent. I know I haven’t done anything wrong so I’m happy to do it.”
However, instead of proceeding with the DNA sample, the jury of seven women and five men watched as DS Settle told him minutes later: “We have reached a point where we have to advise you of your rights.”
He showed the man a photograph of him entering the CityLife hotel, where he lived, at 8.15am on the Sunday with a suitcase he had bought that morning and told him: “You haven’t told the truth. You’ve told a lie.”
The man said: “I’m being truthfully honest with you, I’ve still got that bag in in my room.
“I might have got the times wrong but if you are assuming I was using that suitcase for something, I’ve still got it in my room and you guys can have it.
“It came from The Warehouse [a chain store]. I bought it that day because I was having to move all the stuff out of my room.”
But the jury has heard he used the suitcase to take Miss Millane´s body in a hire car to remote, dense woodland where he buried it in a shallow grave early on Monday morning.
The Crown say he bought a second, identical suitcase which was left in his room at CityLife.
The man is accused of strangling Miss Millane during sex before watching a string of hardcore pornographic videos on his mobile phone.
Police footage also showed them chasing him after spotting him outside the CityLife building, and then taking him in for questioning.
The man had bought cleaning products to get rid of her blood from his carpet.
Auckland High Court heard evidence from a former journalist with whom he had a date. She said he told her all his friends were police officers, including two sisters, and his closest pal was coming to New Zealand to be a Crown prosecutor.
‘He said he had heard of a guy who asked his girlfriend to have rough sex with him including strangulation or suffocation and it had gone wrong and she had died in the process and he had got done for manslaughter.
‘He was very intense, quite calm though,’ she added. ‘He seemed a bit aloof and not quite judging how I was responding to the story.
‘I think he was in his own world telling this story. I think I just felt a bit uncomfortable. I changed the topic to travelling in the South Island.’
The woman said she spent up to two hours with the man at the Revelry bar, in which he drank two beers.
He had told her that he had been a senior manager for a major retail chain in Australia and an international level sportsman before moving to New Zealand to look after his sick grandmother.
He also said his police friends were ‘having a tough time because a lot of people are going missing’.
He told her a number of people were thought to be missing in the hills west of Auckland, where he would bury Miss Millane´s body the next morning.
And he told her ‘police dogs can’t smell bodies that are buried more than four feet in the ground.’
‘He wrote to me later by text saying, hey, I had a really great time would you like to do it again,’ she said.
‘And I said no, I wouldn’t.’
The trial continues.