Grace Millane murder trial: Defence presents case in week three

With the Crown's case wrapped up, week three of the trial of the man accused of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane will centre on the Defence's witnesses.

More than 30 Crown witnesses have been called over the last two weeks at the Auckland High Court to give evidence at the 27-year-old's trial, including a pathologist, the accused's Tinder matches, and detectives.

Beginning on Tuesday, the Defence will have its chance to present its case to the jury of seven women and five men, but who it will call is not yet known. There have been early indications that a pathologist will be asked to give evidence.

The Defence lawyers will also be taking instructions on whether the accused - who has name suppression - will enter the witness box and give evidence. There is no requirement for this to happen.

More coverage of the trial can be found here.

The questioning of Defence witnesses begins with the individual being examined by a Defence lawyer, followed by cross-examination by the Crown. The Defence lawyer may then "re-examine" the witness, while the Judge can also ask questions.

This is the reverse of how Crown witnesses are dealt with. Their questioning begins with the Crown's examination. 

It's expected that the Defence's case will take the trial through to the end of the week, before closing statements by both the Crown and Defence as well as a summing up of the trial by Justice Simon Moore.

The key point of dispute has been what happened inside the CityLife hotel between the night of December 1 and morning of December 2, 2018. The Crown alleges that, after a Tinder date, the accused murdered the young British woman.

A pathologist has told the court that the cause of death was sustained pressure to the neck.

However, the Defence says that Millane's death was an accident during rough consensual sex between an inexperienced couple. The accused admits the woman died in his company and says he disposed of her body in the Waitakere Ranges - where it was found by police on December 9.

Last week, the jury watched CCTV footage revealing the man's actions after the alleged killing, including purchasing a suitcase, cleaning products, and a red shovel. The accused also went on a date with a woman in Ponsonby, where he talked about bodies going missing in the Waitakeres and a man being convicted for manslaughter after rough sex went wrong.

The trial was set down for four to five weeks, but is likely to finish earlier.