Grace Millane murder trial: Jury hears final details of her life

Warning: This article contains content that may disturb some viewers.

Newshub can reveal crucial pieces of evidence gathered in the case of Grace Millane's death.

The prosecution says a 27-year-old - who cannot be named for legal reasons - allegedly murdered the British backpacker in December 2018.

However, the defence claims Grace died accidentally when a sexual act went wrong.

The trial got underway on Wednesday at the Auckland High Court. It was a full courtroom with a packed public gallery and more than 20 media.

Among them were Grace's parents, who came face-to-face with their daughter's murder-accused for the first time.

David and Gillian Millane, hand-in-hand, walked into the High Court ready to face the man the Crown says murdered their daughter.

The Millane family attending court.
The Millane family attending court. Photo credit: Newshub

The prosecution case


On Wednesday, in its opening address, the Crown said 21-year-old Grace met up with the accused in central Auckland on the evening of December 1st last year after connecting on Tinder.

The pair went for a drink at Sky City before going to several other central city bars and back to an apartment at the CityLife Hotel.

The Crown argues that's where the 27-year-old killed Grace.

"Only two people know what happened in that room, one of them can't tell us, and the other one hasn't told the truth about what happened," Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey said in court.

McCoubrey said Grace was strangled to death.

"He put sustained pressure on her neck to the point blood was coming from her nose," he said.

Grace Millane.
Grace Millane. Photo credit: Grace Millane / Facebook

McCoubrey also told the court how in the hours after Grace's death the accused made a number of internet searches on his phone including about the Waitakere Ranges and the hottest type of fire. 

"There can be no reason for making those searches if Miss Millane is alive," he said.

The man also watched pornography and took seven intimate photographs of Grace's body before again accessing pornography and making further internet searches for large bags, and cleaning products.

"If something had gone wrong and it was an accident then you'd expect somebody, wouldn't you, to call for emergency assistance at that stage, and after that, you'd be distraught about what happened," McCoubrey said.

The Crown says on December 2nd the 27-year-old bought a large suitcase from the Warehouse on Elliot Street into which he put Grace's body before meeting up with another woman for a date.

The following day, he drove the suitcase out west, bought a shovel and took Grace's body to the Waitakere ranges where he buried her. She was found by police almost a week later.

Grace and the shovel police say is similar to the one bought by the murder-accused.
Grace and the shovel police say is similar to the one bought by the murder-accused. Photo credit: NZ Police / Supplied

The court heard from two detectives who were at the scene in the Waitakere Ranges when Grace's body was discovered.

They described the spot where the suitcase containing Grace's body was buried under broken foliage and what they saw when they opened it.

They said she was naked inside the suitcase, and her body had been tightly packed in there.

The defence case


While the accused accepts that Grace died in his hotel room - his defence counsel says it was an accident that happened during consensual sex. 

Grace's murder-accused in court.
Grace's murder-accused in court. Photo credit: Newshub

"The defence says to you that this is not a murder," defence lawyer Ian Brookie told the jury.

The lawyer says what happened was a fairly typical encounter between two young people gone wrong.

He said they had sex and to increase pleasure, the defendant placed his hands on Millane's neck, which she encouraged.

He said that act between an inexperienced couple went wrong.

"[It was an] unforeseen and unintended consequence. Put simply this death was an accident. He certainly didn't murder her," Brookie insisted.

Brookie said the defendant's "post-death conduct" should not be given undue weight. He said that will not help the jury in assessing what happened in the CityLife hotel apartment.

On Thursday, the court's expected to watch CCTV images showing Grace's final movements the night she died and the movements of her alleged killer in the days that followed.