Grace Millane murder trial: Accused found guilty of Grace Millane's murder

The jury in the Grace Millane murder trial has delivered a guilty verdict in the murder of Grace Millane. 

A 27-year-old man with name suppression has been on trial for the murder of the British backpacker for the past three weeks. 

Justice Simon Moore indicates that February 21 will be the date of sentencing.

The jury of seven women and five men began their deliberations on Friday afternoon after Justice Simon Moore summed up the trial.

Justice Moore discussed the evidence before the jurors and provide instructions about how they should consider it. 

The Crown alleges the accused - who cannot be named - murdered Millane in Auckland Central's CityLife hotel in December last year following a Tinder date. The defence says, however, that her death was an accident during consensual, rough sex.

More coverage of the trial can be found here.

These live updates have now finished.

6:08pm - Detective Inspector Scott Beard, the policeman in charge of the investigation, has tears in his eyes as he says he cannot speak while the court process remains underway. Sentencing must still happen.

Grace Millane murder trial: Accused found guilty of Grace Millane's murder
Photo credit: Newshub.

6:01pm - David Milane, Grace's father, says the verdict will be welcomed by every member of the Millane family. But it will not reduce the pain and suffering. 

"We would like to thank the people of New Zealand."

He calls Grace his "sunshine".

Grace Millane murder trial: Accused found guilty of Grace Millane's murder
Photo credit: Newshub.

5:57 - David and Gillian Millane hugged after they heard the verdict. 

5:51- Gillain Millane, Grace's mother, is in tears as the verdict is read. Justice Simon Moore indicates that February 21 will be the date of sentencing.

The accused remains emotionless.

5:45- Guilty of murder 

5:42pm - David and Gillian Millane have entered courtroom 11. The verdict is expected to be announced soon.

The public is now being allowed into the room.

5:03pm - The forewoman of the jury has indicated they could reach a verdict today. 

She told the judge the jury would like to continue deliberating as they were close to a verdict. 

12:44pm - Justice Moore wraps up his summary by reminding the jury that their "task is to reach a unanimous verdict".

It is up to them how much time that takes.

"There is no rush," he adds. 

He tells them that if no verdict is reached by 5pm on Friday, the jury will be allowed to go home until Monday.

The jury is then sent away to deliberate.

12:40pm - Moving onto consent, Justice Moore says this only becomes relevant in deliberations if murder has been rejected. 

He says this is because people can’t consent to their own death or to having bodily injuries inflicted upon them that would cause death. 

The judge tells the jury consent must be freely given by a rational person.

They must understand the risks associated with the activity and understand the scope of the activity.

For example, a person will know the risks of playing a game of rugby may include injuries to their body. However, a player would not consider another playing stabbing them with a knife within the scope of the activity.

Consent can be expressed explicitly or implied by submission - as long as the activity remains within the scope of what the person expects.

Whether Millane consented to the accused’s actions will become important if the jury considers manslaughter.

12:32pm - Justice Moore again goes over the evidence given by women the accused had previously had sexual encounters with or messaged online.

He outlines the arguments by the Crown and defence for and against the evidence’s relevance and how this may inform the jury about murderous intent. 

The judge also does this with each party’s submissions about the lies the accused told.

12:27pm - On the accused's conduct after Millane died, Justice Moore notes the Crown believed the actions after death are "instructive", informing the jury about the time of death, the accused's level of composure and the accused's attitude towards Millane's body. 

Dickey submitted that the actions showed a lack of panic.

But the defence said people get things wrong in high-stress situations. Brookie submitted that the accused committed himself to a course and couldn’t show external signs of panic or of being upset.

The accused at Countdown after Millane died.
The accused at Countdown after Millane died. Photo credit: Supplied

12:11pm - Justice Moore is talking about the elements of the Crown’s case for murderous intent. He begins by discussing the pathology evidence.

He says the Crown submitted this evidence should be contrasted with the accused's defence that Millane’s death happened during "consensual, erotic asphyxiation that went wrong". 

Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey said someone would need to be strangled for minutes with substantial force in order to kill them.

"Is this consistent with consensual, loving, breath play?," Dickey asked.

But Justice Moore says the defence pointed to the fact that there was no significant injuries to Millane’s neck that one would expect to see after a struggle during an aggressive attack.

Defence lawyer Ian Brookie had also said the evidence was unclear about how long strangulation needed before death.

11:37am -  Discussing Millane and the accused's consumption of alcohol, Justice Moore reminds the jury that "drunken intent is still an intent" and that "intoxication in itself is not a defence". 

But intoxication may be relevant to the accused's state of mind.

The court is now taking a short break.

11:30am - Justice Moore is highlighting the questions the jury must answer before delivering their verdict. 

One question they will have to consider is whether there was a form of murderous intent by the accused. 

This must be unanimously decided for a murder verdict.

If the jury does not believe murder was committed, they must move on to the question of manslaughter.

11:11am - The evidence given by the woman who alleged the accused suffocated her with his genitals is now being discussed. 

Justice Moore goes over the key strands of evidence and the defence's cross-examination. 

He again tells the jury that it is up to them to consider the woman's claims and what conclusions may be drawn.

He says if the jury believes it is irrelevant evidence, then it must be put aside. Similarly, even if the jury believes the woman and her claims, they should not use this independently to consider the accused a "bad or evil" person.

10:47am - Justice Moore discusses the four statements the accused made to police. He points out the accused was never required to speak to officers and was not under oath when doing this.

He says it is clear lies were told during the initial police conversations, such as when he said he had parted ways with Millane at about 8pm on December 1.

The accused later admitted earlier statements were lies in his December 8 police interview.

In the interview, the accused apologised for misleading the police. He said he did this as he was in shock.

"[People] may react in all sorts of ways [in police interviews], including lying," Justice Moore says. "They may panic".

While the Crown submitted the accused’s actions in the days after Millane's death showed a lack of panic or shock and that the lies point to guilt, Justice Moore says the lies are just "one piece of evidence".

The accused during one of his police interviews.
The accused during one of his police interviews. Photo credit: Supplied

10:43am - Justice Moore says the accused has no obligation to enter the witness box and the fact he did not does not add to a case against him.

"He does not have to prove his innocence," he tells the jury. 

10:33am - Justice Moore says all evidence must be treated the same - regardless of whether it is presented as a statement from a person, a person sitting in the witness box, or an exhibit. 

Submissions by lawyers are not evidence. They are examples of persuasion by the lawyers to get the jury on their side.

Justice Moore also says any suggestions or propositions given to witnesses by lawyers cannot be treated as evidence unless accepted by the witness.

10:25am -  Justice Moore says it is crucial the jury treats the accused as innocent. It is the Crown's job to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. 

He says this does not mean the belief the accused is "probably" or "very likely" guilty. Beyond reasonable doubt means an honest and impartial view the accused is guilty, Justice Moore submits.

10:22am - Justice Moore begins his summary by saying he will direct the jury on matters of law that they must accept and use to inform their decision. However, it is up to them to interpret the evidence, its credibility and what weight it holds.

He reminds the jury that their findings must be based on the evidence presented in courtroom 11, not based on the "saturated" media coverage last year or the jury's own online inquiries. 

Justice Moore says media reports are often "inaccurate" or "incomplete" and cannot be relied upon by the jury.

He also tells the jury that they can’t be influenced by emotion or sympathy for anyone involved in the trial.

"It is entirely natural for you to have feelings of sympathy towards the Millane family and the loss of Grace," Justice Moore says.

He echoes comments by defence lawyer Ron Mansfield that they should not condemn social practises that may appear odd to them. That includes condemning the lifestyle of the accused.

10:15am - Court has begun for the final day before the jury retires to deliberate. 

The public gallery is overflowing with people.

Justice Simon Moore begins by addressing the gallery, saying people must remain seated until the next adjournment as he does not want the jury distracted.

He then speaks to the jury, complimenting them on their attitude towards the trial, including a willingness to sit extended hours and always turning up on time.

"[It is] plainly evident that throughout you have listened courteously."

9:47am -
 David and Gillian Millane have entered courtroom 11 along with their police family liaison officers for the final day of court before the jury retires. 

They have sat through every day of the three-week trial, often listening to harrowing evidence about their daughter's alleged murder.  

9:30am - A massive crowd is waiting outside courtroom 11 for proceedings to begin. The day will start with Justice Simon Moore summarising the case and then providing instructions to the jury. Both the Crown and defence had their opportunity to present their final statements on Thursday.

9:15am - The Auckland High Court typically sticks to a strict routine, with scheduled lunch and tea breaks. That makes it unlikely a verdict will be returned between 1pm and 2:15pm or 3:30pm and 3:45pm, unless an exception is made.

9am - David and Gillian Millane, Grace's parents, will be in court again on Friday, as they have every day throughout the trial. In just over a week, on December 2, the young woman would have turned 23-years-old.

8:45am - The jury will likely be released on Friday afternoon to begin considering the three weeks' worth of evidence presented before them. As Newshub reporter Alice Wilkins told The AM Show on Friday morning, the court normally sits to 5pm, but the jury may be allowed to deliberate later if they are close to a verdict.

"They could work through, and that sort of rests with them really. It is totally up the jury how long they take. This part of the trial is in their hands."