Essex

Grace Millane murder trial: Defence case closes

Grace Millane, 22, from Essex, who went missing in New Zealand Image copyright REX/Shutterstock
Image caption Grace Millane died on the night before her 22nd birthday

The defence case has closed in the trial of a man accused of murdering a British backpacker whose body was found in a suitcase.

Grace Millane, 21, from Wickford in Essex, died on 1 December in a hotel room in Auckland, New Zealand.

A man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has admitted burying her body in an area of bushland outside Auckland, but denies murdering her.

He claims Ms Millane died accidentally during consensual sex.

The prosecution had previously told jurors at Auckland High Court the 27-year-old strangled her before disposing of her body and cleaning the scene.

The court heard from several people who had been in contact with Ms Millane via BDSM dating sites, Whiplr and FetLife.

One man said she had last been on her account on the day of her death.

Image copyright TVNZ
Image caption Grace Millane was found buried in the Waitakere Ranges, near Auckland

Another, who had agreed to meet up with the University of Lincoln graduate but never did, described her as having an exploratory interest in BDSM as well as being "naive" in her use of such dating apps.

The court has been told the pair had met through dating app Tinder and after drinking cocktails for several hours had returned to the defendant's hotel room at CityLife in Auckland's city centre.

In his police interview on 8 December, the defendant said Ms Millane had encouraged him to choke her, taking the lead in their sexual encounter.

The prosecution claims he murdered Ms Millane.

Pathologist Dr Fintan Garavan told jurors it was likely to take "five to 10 minutes" for choking to have caused death.

The trial continues.

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