Grace Millane murder trial: Crown, defence give final statements to jury

The Crown and defence have given their closing addresses to the jury in the trial of the man charged with murdering Grace Millane. 

The Crown told the jury Millane's death was no accident - that the accused murdered her and told a "labyrinth of lies" to cover it up. 

Crown Solicitor Brian Dickey said the accused would have had to strangle Millane for five to 10 minutes and she would have become unconscious first.

"Under his handhold, unconscious and limp and lifeless, and he had to carry on... you would have to carry on to cause death," Dickey said.

As for a motive, Dickey directed the jury to the seven intimate photos the accused took of Millane's naked body. 

"When Grace Millane was dead, he took that photograph there - when she was dead," he reiterated.

He called the images "trophy photographs", saying the accused had sexualised and eroticised her death. 

"You have a man that is searching [for] total domination, some sort of weird power thrill over women who are his sexual partners - that's a clear motive," he claimed. 

The Crown also told the jury the accused's actions in the days following Millane's death were "key" to the case.

It said the man was "cool, calm and in control" when he purchased a suitcase, later a shovel, and buried her body in the Waitakere Ranges. Dickey said the accused showed "no panic".

He said the accused had treated Millane's body with an utter disregard for her dignity after her death. 

In the accused's first interview with police on December 6 last year, Dickey said the man had lied and "spun a fairytale' about saying goodbye to Millane after they met for a drink. 

"The reason he tells those layered lies is because he's trying to get away with what he has done," Dickey said.

The Crown explained it did not have to prove the accused had intended to kill Millane. To find him guilty of murder, it had to prove he had taken a conscious risk - that his actions may cause harm that was likely to cause death. 

Dickey told the jury that holding Millane's neck in his grip for five to 10 minutes and her losing consciousness was enough to prove reckless intent. 

"If that's not reckless murder in this country, ladies and gentlemen, someone would have to explain to me what is," he said.

More coverage of the trial can be found here.

The defence's closing arguments

The defence also concluded their closing arguments late on Thursday afternoon.

Lead counsel Ian Brookie told the jury that while they may not like the actions of the accused following Millane's death, there is no evidence to prove he intentionally killed her.

The closing argument for the defence started with a simple statement: This was not a murder.

"It was an accidental death that took place in the context of sexual activities that if done incorrectly by inexperienced and/or intoxicated people can go wrong," said Brookie.

Brookie said CCTV footage from the night of Millane's death shows she formed a "genuine connection" with the accused.

"Two young people getting on like a house on fire, talking, laughing," he explained.

He told the jury to ignore any lies the accused may have told the British backpacker - like that he was the manager of an oil company.


"He's insecure, single, trying to find a relationship and he's trying to impress girls," Brookie claimed.

Brookie instead urged the jury to focus on things that Millane allegedly told the accused, like that she had practiced restriction of breath during sex with a previous partner.

He said that shows the accused's version of events is truthful.

"The only way he could've known that is if she did exactly what he said - talked to him about it," Brookie said.

The defence said when the pair went back to the accused's apartment, Millane asked him to do similar things: to put his hands around her neck during sex. Yet he was inexperienced and accidentally killed her.

"There are no other injuries, defensive type injuries that one might see in a case where someone is being choked against their will," Brookie said.

The defence claimed the accused's actions after Millane's death show there was no planning - that the accused "freaked out" and "lied" to try and "cover it up".

"Reprehensible, bad, unacceptable, you may well not agree with those actions and you're entitled to that view," he said.

But according to the defence, the "freak out" does not prove he intended to murder Grace Millane.

The case will be summed up by Justice Simon Moore on Friday.