Grace Millane murder trial: Jury hears details of internet searches on accused's phone

The final hours of Grace Millane's life were shown to the jury on Thursday at the trial of the man accused of murdering her. 

The jury of seven women and five men saw footage showing the 21-year-old Brit and the man - who cannot be named - at various central Auckland restaurants and bars on the evening of December 1.

The pair spent several hours strolling around the busy Auckland CBD, visiting restaurants like Andy's Burger Bar, Mexican Cafe, and the Bluestone Room - all caught on the many CCTV cameras in the area. 

At one stage, they're seen kissing each other, while Millane also texted a friend to say she was enjoying the date.

The footage also showed the pair entering the CityLife hotel at 9:40pm. The Crown alleges the young woman was murdered in a hotel apartment, but the Defence says her death was an accident after consensual rough sex went wrong.

These live updates are now over.

5:10pm - Thursday's proceedings have finished. Crenfeldt will continue to speak on Friday.

5:03pm - Forensic scientist Dianne Crenfeldt has discussed inspecting the CityLife hotel scene when she arrived on December 7. She said forensic scientists looked for anything of significance when they arrived. One object documented was a grey suitcase with pieces of cardboard in it. It was her opinion that this was reasonably new.

Around the room, several probable or possible blood stains were detected by the forensic scientists. This included a suitcase found in the wardrobe. Soil was also detected on a glove in the suitcase.

Multiple vertical drops of blood were found on the top of 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.

Probable blood was also found on certain areas on the floor, including on the corridor outside the bathroom and on the far side of the bed under the apartment window.

4:28pm - A police photographer has taken the stand. He confirmed he took photos of the scene on the evening of December 15, 2018, which included photos with the blinds pointing in different directions. These photos were referred to by Brookie.

4:22pm - After discussing the measurements of some parts of the room, Det Luker confirmed that the apartment contained blinds. When the blinds' outward edge was turned to the right, some light shone onto the bed. When the blinds were turned to the left, there was a lot less light.

Det Luker says when the blinds were turned to the right, it took about a minute for his eyes to adjust. Eventually he could see objects around the room.

He also confirmed that he knew cleaning products had been used as the liquid inside them had been depleted.

Grace's mother, Gillian, has also returned to the room.

4:12pm - The proceedings have restarted. Defence lawyer Ian Brookie is now cross-examining Det Luker.

3:45pm - Proceedings have been halted for a brief break.

3:40pm - Data from one of the phones found in the room - owned by the accused - was extracted, according to Det Luker. He says internet searches show that at 1:29am on December 2, the Waitakere Ranges are searched for, followed by a search for the hottest type of fire. The website Pornhub was then searched for at 1:41am.

The phone's data also shows several explicit images were taken early on the morning of December 2 showing what Det Luker said appeared to be parts of a naked female body. During this, Millane’s mother exited the public gallery with her face in her hands. David Millane remained in the room, staring at the floor.

Det Luker confirmed there were further pornographic website searches at around 2:20am before a break in searches. At 6:01am, a search for a car hire occured. Throughout December 2, many more searches occurred. These included for large bags and beaches.

Searches from December 5 include for "fleshing eating birds" and to find out if there are vultures in New Zealand.

3:09pm - Det Luker says cleaning products were found in the bathroom later in the examination. These were located in a cupboard directly under the sink.

Among the products were Amazing Stain Remover, RugDoctor carpet cleaner and Janola Premium Bleach. One of the bottles of cleaner had a red spot on the front.

2:58pm - Detective Samuel Luker says a search warrant was carried out on a CityLife hotel apartment on December 6 at about 9:55pm. Before going in, he had considered that Millane could be inside. No one was found in the room, however.

Two phones were found near the apartment bed. One was turned off while the other was turned on to flight mode by Det Luker. The purpose of this was to stop anyone remotely accessing the phone and wiping any potential evidence.

On December 7, luminol testing occurred in the apartment and Det Luker said there was a large blue glow emitting from an area below the base of the bed. Luminol testing helps to signal traces of blood.

Red spots had also been identified on the apartment fridge.

2:35pm - The hearing has begun after the lunch break. A detective who was involved in a scene examination of the accused's apartment is now on the stand.

1:33pm - One of the final texts from Millane to Ashcroft was saying she would update her the following day. But that never happened.

The court has now been adjourned until 2:15pm.

1:21pm - One point during the date, Ashcroft asked Millane how the date was going, to which she replied: "Really good". Millane would later tell her that she and the accused "really clicked" and that he was going to London the following year.

Ashcroft said two things signalled to her that Millane was drunk. One was a typo in a previous message and a second was that Millane was saying a lot about how much Ashcroft was her best friend. Ashcroft said Millane would often express her admiration for her friend while sober, but not usually to this degree, giving her the impression she was drunk.

The friend also spoke about the level of knowledge she had about Millane's sexual activity. She said was regularly told about boys Millane was seeing, knew Millane enjoyed foreplay, but had never heard about Millane partaking in BDSM.

She did say that she believed Millane only had sex with men she felt intimate with and trusted.

1:09pm - On December 1 - the last day Millane was seen alive - the friends spoke via an online messaging platform. Millane spoke of going on a date, according to Ashcroft.

Ashcroft said Millane said he had said he was the manager of an oil company.

She felt slightly concerned about this, confused why she would be on a date with an oil company manager. But she didn’t want to get into the details with Millane.

1:02pm - Various exchanges the friend had with Millane while the Brit was on her OE have been shared by Ashcroft.

While Millane was in Peru and Ashcroft was away in Dubai, the pair discussed what Millane was doing on her travels and the temperature in South America.

"Grace was really loving her travels."

12:58pm - The Crown is now reading out a statement from a friend of Millane's, who she met during her time at the University of Lincoln in the UK. 

Ameena Ashcroft describes Millane as a "lovely, outgoing girl". She said Millane loved to socialise, but was also focussed on her studies.

"[She is] friendly and outgoing. Grace never had any issues with people… that was not Grace’s style."

12:45pm - The video has finished and Det Bicknell has been allowed to leave the stand.

12:27pm - The full time Grace Millane and the accused spent at Durham Lane's Bluestone Room is playing out for the jury and court. Throughout the roughly one-hour-and-10-minute-long period, the pair look joyful. They laugh and affectionately kiss on multiple occasions.

Several drinks - including Heinekens and tequila shots - are consumed throughout the stay. No food appears to be purchased.

Both Millane and the accused leave each other at the table at different points while they go inside. The accused at one stage picks up Millane's handbag and holds it for a moment. He looks inside before placing it back on the stool.

11:57am - The hearing has resumed. The jury is being shown the full CCTV footage of the pair's time at the Bluestone Room.

11:45am - Justice Simon Moore is now allowing a short break in proceedings.

11:35am - The jury is now being shown the full CCTV footage from the pair's time at the Bluestone Room. This is set to take more than one hour.

11:31am - Brookie questioned Det Bicknell on the drinks purchased at each establishment. Multiple alcoholic beverages were consumed at the three restaurants the pair visited, including tequila shots, margaritas, beer and cocktails.

However, Det Bicknell says that he can't be sure who drank what as the CCTV footage did not capture the full detail of the pair at the tables.

11:22am - Det Bicknell is now being cross-examined by Defence lawyer Ian Brookie. The lawyer began by asking the detective whether the full interactions of the accused and Millane could be seen at each restaurant they visited.

Due to the positioning of the CCTV camera, some exchanges weren't captured - such as the pair drinking on the Mexican Cafe balcony.

Det Bicknell has also confirmed that at some points during the pair's movement around the city, they were holding hands.

11:10am - After spending around an hour at the Bluestone Room bar, the pair leave and begin walking to the entrance of the CityLife hotel. During this time, the accused has his arm around Millane.

At about 9:41pm, they enter the hotel foyer and make their way to an elevator.

These are the last shots the jury are shown from CCTV footage.

Grace Millane murder trial: Jury hears details of internet searches on accused's phone
Photo credit: Newshub.

10:58am - After leaving the Mexican Cafe, the pair walked to the Bluestone Room bar, where they are asked for their IDs by a bouncer. This is opposite the CityLife hotel.

The pair kiss multiple times while sitting outside at a table surrounded by people. Several drinks, including shots, were consumed by the young pair.

10:49am - The pair were captured on CCTV cameras at both Andy's Burger Bar and the Mexican Cafe.

They were at each establishment for a little over an hour. At Andy's they had cocktails.

At one point at the Mexican Cafe, Millane puts her hands on the accused’s waist.


10:40am: -
 The jury has seen the moment Grace Millane and the accused first met.

CCTV footage shows Millane standing below the SkyTower. The complex had been decorated for the Christmas festivities.

The young backpacker can be seen using her phone, which is when police believe she sent her family a photo of a Christmas tree. This was referenced in her father, David's, statement on Wednesday.

The accused enters the shot and initially looks to turn around before approaching her.

They hug and then enter the SkyCity building where they go to Andy's Burger Bar.

Grace Millane murder trial: Jury hears details of internet searches on accused's phone
Photo credit: Newshub.


10:20am -
 Det Bicknell says over the course of the operation, about six terabytes of CCTV was collected.

Some of it came from the CityLife Hotel, which has about 14 cameras and records 24/7.

This allowed the police to track both the accused and Millane's movements on the days around her death.

10:12am - Detective Adam Bicknell from Auckland police has taken the stand. He was in charge of the CCTV footage throughout the missing persons, and then homicide inquiry. It was codenamed Operation Gourami.

10:00am - David and Gillian Millane have made their way into the courtroom. 

9:51am - Members of the public have arrived in numbers to watch the second day, they are waiting outside the courtroom.

Currently, only media and lawyers are able to access the room.

9:30am - Proceedings at the Auckland High Court are due to begin at 10:00am

Newshub.

 

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