Grace Millane murder trial: Jury hears forensic evidence

Forensic evidence from inside the room where Grace Millane was allegedly murdered was revealed in detail to the jury on Friday.

The trial of the 27-year-old man accused of killing her continues at the Auckland High Court, with the Crown alleging the man strangled the British backpacker in a CityLife hotel apartment room in December last year.

The Defence insists, however, that the young woman died accidentally during consensual rough sex and that the man - who cannot be named - had no murderous intent.

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Forensic scientist Dianne Crenfeldt took the stand on Thursday to speak about probable blood splatter found in the apartment.  Among other areas, these blood traces were found on a suitcase in the wardrobe while luminol testing showed bloody footprints on the ground.

Multiple vertical drops of blood were found on the fridge, which Crenfeldt said was likely the result of blood being flicked off an object. She said it was possible the object the blood came off was a body part.

Crenfeldt returned to the stand on Friday. An expert in DNA profiling and a forensic toxicologist also took to the stand.

These live updates are now over.

12:55pm - The court proceedings have now finished for the day. The trial will restart on Monday.

12:53pm - Kappatos says blood samples can be diluted by fluids, which may lead to a lower indication of the amount of alcohol in the blood. She does not know if the blood she checked was diluted and conducted no tests to find that out.

12:47pm - Forensic toxicologist Diana Kappatos analysed a blood sample from a post-mortem of Millane. She found that there was 106mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in the sample. The legal limit for driving is 50mg per 100ml.

However, Kappatos says this does not signal how much alcohol was in the blood at the time of death. When a body decomposes - as it had before the post-mortem - the composition of alcohol in the blood can either increase or decrease.

Analysing her stomach contents, Kappatos found no evidence of medicinal drugs or drugs of abuse having been taken by Millane.

12:22pm - Turlough Thomas-Stone, an expert in DNA profiling, is now giving evidence. He is speaking about the likelihood DNA taken from some of the blood stains came from Millane.

DNA from one of the blood stains on the fridge was 500,000 million times more likely to be from the young Brit than any other random person in New Zealand.

This is considered an "extremely strong" likelihood - the highest possible.

Other blood samples - taken from the carpet underlay and wardrobe suitcase - also had DNA with an "extremely strong" likelihood of matching that of Millane.

12:08pm - The court has now restarted, with attention turned to the blood found on the fridge. On Thursday, Crenfeldt said some of the blood was in a vertical drip, which suggested it was cast-off blood. This means it has flicked off an object.

She said she couldn't confirm when the blood hit the surface or what object it came from.

Brookie asked if she believed the scene was consistent with a version of events given by the accused that he found a small amount of blood which he cleaned up. She said it was consistent with blood being cleaned up.

Crenfeldt has now finished giving evidence.

The apartment fridge.
The apartment fridge. Photo credit: Supplied.

11:37am - The court is now taking a short break.

11:12am - Crenfeldt has confirmed to Brookie that it's possible some of the blood was transferred from one section of the apartment to another - such as by a person putting their hand in blood and then their hand onto a chair. Luminol testing revealed footprints, meaning someone walked around with blood on their feet, she said.

Previously, the jury saw images of a blue glow coming from parts of the apartment floor which is the result of luminol testing. This glow shows where probable blood is detected. Blood was not visible without the luminol testing.

Some drops of possible blood around one of the circular stains - which Crenfeldt earlier said may have been from the bottom of a bucket - could have dropped off a cloth being used in a clean-up. No buckets were found in the apartment and she can't say how much blood there was.

Luminol reaction in the apartment.
Luminol reaction in the apartment. Photo credit: Supplied.
Luminol reaction in the apartment.
Luminol reaction in the apartment. Photo credit: Supplied.

10:52am - The forensic scientist said several variables may affect whether DNA is detected in blood. One was whether cleaning products - which can remove DNA or break it down - were used, as she believes they were in this case, or how much DNA a person naturally sheds.

The amount of DNA extracted by scientists may also be impacted if DNA was lost during the extraction process or by environmental factors like rain. Accordingly, just because DNA is not extracted, that doesn’t mean it wasn't present.

Crenfledt told Defence lawyer Ian Brookie that there are two primary ways DNA can get somewhere. One is the depositing of a fluid, the second is skin cells being transported by touch or by touching someone or something else, and then them leaving the DNA somewhere.

She confirmed DNA was not found on any objects retrieved from the Scenic Dr gravesite.

The process of decomposition does often result in less DNA cells, Crenfeldt agrees. This can be affected by environmental factors, like if the body is somewhere wet or hot.

10:31am - Crenfeldt is speaking about two circular blood stains found on the ground in the CityLife hotel apartment. She says the carpet was cut up and red staining was found on the underlay as well as the concrete floor below.

It is her opinion, considering things like the shape of the blood staining, that a clean-up of blood had occurred in the area. She said the small circular shape may have come from the bottom of something like a bucket. Crenfeldt said she was unable to say how old the blood was.

10:15am - Friday's proceedings are now underway, with forensic scientist Dianne Crenfeldt back on the stand. As they have been for the last two days, David and Gillian Millane are sitting in the public gallery.

9:59am - As the third day of the trial gets underway, public interest seems to not be letting up. A large group is waiting to be allowed into the courtroom.

9:30am - Friday's proceedings will begin at 10am, with Crenfeldt expected to be the first witness on the stand.

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