Grace Millane: Family welcome ban on 'rough sex' murder defence

By Charlie Jones
BBC News

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image copyrightLucie Blackman Trust
image captionGrace Millane's killer said she died accidentally after asking to be strangled during sex

The family of murdered backpacker Grace Millane said they were pleased a defence for murder which "blames the victim" has been outlawed.

Miss Millane, from Wickford, Essex, was killed in New Zealand in December 2018.

Her killer claimed she died accidentally after asking to be strangled during sex, but he was convicted of her murder.

The Domestic Abuse Bill, which includes a ban on the so-called "rough sex gone wrong" defence, was approved this week.

Her cousin Hannah O'Callaghan said it was "truly horrendous" to have to listen to his lies during the court case.

image captionGrace's cousin Hannah O'Callaghan (left) and mother Gillian Millane (right) have donated thousands of handbags to refuges in her memory

She said: "It felt like Grace was on trial, yet not able to defend herself.

"We are so pleased that the government are stopping rough sex being used as a defence. It needs to be called what it really is and that's murder and you cannot consent to that.

"Families won't have to sit and listen to only one side of the story, while the victim is re-victimised and doesn't get to tell their side."

Miss Millane's death provoked an outpouring of anger, partly because of her killer's attempts to explain her death. Personal details about the 22-year-old's sex life were discussed in court and reported around the world.

image copyrightMillane Family
image captionGrace Millane's murder provoked an outpouring of anger, partly because of her killer's attempts to explain her death

The case led to increased concerns about the defence and a campaign group called We Can't Consent To This was formed to put pressure on ministers to ban it.

It said the use of the defence was on the rise and analysed 60 cases of men who argued in court that consensual violence during sex had caused a woman's death.

Ms O'Callaghan added: "Hopefully this will mean no other family has to go through this and men will stop using this defence as an excuse to kill women, knowing they can get a lesser sentence."

The bill, which also aims to target revenge porn and strengthen rules surrounding controlling or coercive behaviour, is due to come into force in England and Wales later this year.

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