Grace Millane murder trial: Live updates as police interview, CCTV footage shown to jury

A police interview with the man accused of killing British backpacker Grace Millane has been shown at his trial in the Auckland High Court.

The 27-year-old man - who has name suppression - is accused of murdering the young British woman at the Auckland Central CityLife hotel between the night of December 1 and the morning of December 2 last year. A pathologist has told the court her cause of death was sustained pressure to the neck.

The Defence, however, disputes the man had murderous intent, arguing Millane's death was an accident after a form of rough consensual sex. 

But in a police interview the accused undertook on December 6, 2018, the man told Detective Ewen Settle he parted ways with Millane after a Tinder date on December 1 and then went on to drink at a pub. This is contradicted by CCTV footage showing the man and Millane entering the CityLife hotel at 9:41pm that night.

On Wednesday, the jury of seven women and five men was shown more of the police interview and also viewed CCTV footage of the accused's actions after the alleged murder. Already the jury has seen footage of the pair's date and them walking into the hotel.

The woman the accused had a drink within Ponsonby on December 2 also gave evidence.

More coverage of the trial can be found here.

These live updates are now over.

5pm - A woman who was employed at the Queen St drycleaners the accused visited on December 3 is now giving evidence.

She says the accused had come into the store a couple times before. On this occasion, he asked for several clothes to be washed - including track pants, a hoodie, underwear, and socks. He requested a heavy wash be done and told the employee that some of the clothes had mud on them.

Court has now finished for the day. The trial continues on Thursday.

4:55pm - A Countdown employee who helped the accused purchase a RugDoctor on December 2 is speaking to the court.

The employee said the accused came into the store twice. He believes he left the first time to get his ID which was needed to hire a RugDoctor.

The witness says he asked the accused what he needed it for. The accused said he wanted to clean a "red wine" stain. The employee also recommended some cleaning products the accused could use.

The man said the accused "seemed fine" during the interaction.

4:41pm - A woman who worked at the car rental store the accused visited is now in the witness box. She says the man "didn't seem out of the ordinary" when he came to collect a car. The pair made a bit of "small talk" at the time.

The witness was also at the store when the man returned the car the next day. The woman describes him as being "a little bit flustered", but admits it was a hot day and he was running late to return the car.

"He just didn't seem as calm and relaxed," the woman says.

She allowed him to fill the car up with petrol. They didn't speak about what he had been doing.

4:22pm - The man giving evidence now drove the cab the accused rode in to the car rental store on December 2.

He tells the court the accused "seemed alright" during the trip. They only chatted briefly about how the Auckland Santa Parade was impacting the route they were taking.

4:15pm - The pair are discussing the woman's comment that after the man mentioned the manslaughter case, she felt uncomfortable. She confirms she changed the subject.

The woman also confirms to the court that in her message to the man after the date she told him she had a good time during the meeting, but didn't feel they had the connection she wanted.

She has finished giving evidence.

4:09pm - The woman is now being cross-examined by Defence lawyer Ian Brookie. They are going over the messages sent between her and the accused in the weeks before the December 2 date.

In one message, the accused asks if she wanted to meet on the night of December 1. The woman couldn't as she was busy that day. He then suggested possibly going on a date on November 30, but again she couldn't as she was holding a "single's yacht event". However, she invited him to meet her and others afterwards. He found that odd and she understood.

3:44pm - The date lasted for about an hour and a half. She had one drink, while he had two.

The pair left the bar at the same time, the woman says. They spoke about where they had parked, but she lied about this as she says she felt "uncomfortable" with the man.

She tells the court that she didn't want to spend more time with him.

The pair then went their separate ways, but the man later messaged her asking if she wanted to see him again. She told him "no" and they never went on another date.

The court is now taking a short break.

3:38pm - The woman is now speaking about something the man told her before the conversation about the man getting "done for manslaughter".

She says the man mentioned that many of his police friends were having a tough time in the Waitakere Ranges. According to the woman, he told her that lots of bodies were going missing there. He also said that police dogs can only sense bodies buried deeper than four feet.

The witness says she felt "concerned" about this conversation and that it was an unusual thing to mention on a date.

3:36pm - The witness says the man began talking about a "guy who had asked his girlfriend to have rough sex with him". She tells the court that he said this sex involved "strangulation" and it had "gone wrong" and the girlfriend died during the process.

According to the woman, the accused said this man "got done for manslaughter".

She says throughout this conversation he was "very intense" and "aloof". During it, she felt "uncomfortable".

3:30pm - The pair met at the Ponsonby bar at 4pm on December 2. They initially spoke about him coming to New Zealand from Australia and that he had spent the day trying to find a large duffel bag for sportswear. The witness also said the accused told her most of his friends were police officers who he met on nights out. She found it "strange" that most of his friends from the force.

3:23pm - The woman the accused met at a bar in Ponsonby on December 2 is now giving evidence. She has name suppression.

She tells the court she matched with the accused on Tinder a couple of weeks before they met. Their conversations were "pretty casual" and centred around their common interest in AFL and McDonald's.

In the week prior to their date, they decided to meet on Sunday, December 2.

According to the witness, the accused messaged her at 8am and 10am on Sunday. She didn't reply to these messages. He messaged again at about midday, which she replied to. They decided to meet at Revelry at 4pm.

3:16pm - Det Bicknell is now being cross-examined by Defence lawyer Ian Brookie. The detective confirms that the CCTV footage shown to the jury is only a highlights compilation. Multiple comings-and-goings of the accused from the CityLife hotel weren't included.

The detective is now finished in the witness box.

2:59pm - On December 5, at about 4:50pm, the accused goes to Auckland Central's Albert Park with the sports bag. He approaches a rubbish bin, takes items out, and puts them inside the bin.

The next day on December 6, Detective Toni Jordan is shown entering the CityLife hotel with her partner. After seeing the accused outside, the pair jog after him. Det Jordan spoke about this in her evidence on Tuesday.

This was the final part of CCTV shown.

2:45pm - At 10:20am, the man goes to the St Lukes' Warehouse. He purchases a suitcase there.

The accused then drives to a nearby Washworld, where he cleans the red hired car. At one point, Det Bicknell says, the man grabs a shoe from the car. A few minutes later, the man walks to the next cleaning bay over from his vehicle and leaves the red shovel leaning against the wall.

At 11:20am, the accused returns to the CityLife hotel with two suitcases.

After filling up the red car and spending time at the CityLife hotel, the accused heads to the drycleaners and is handed back the bag he deposited earlier.

2:33pm - Court has resumed for the afternoon session. CCTV Footage from December 3 is being shown to the jury of seven women and five men.

At 9:52am, the accused leaves the CityLife hotel with two bags. After going to the nearby Wilson carpark, the man can be seen with only one bag.

Six minutes later, the man visits a Queen St drycleaners.

1:10pm - The car is then driven to a carpark, where Det Bicknell says it remained overnight.

Footage shown to the jury of the following morning, December 3, shows the accused walking to the carpark and then the hired car leaving.

At 6:50am, the red hired car is driven into the carpark at an ITM store in Kumeu. Inside the accused can be seen purchasing a red shovel before leaving at 6:57am.

He then returns to the car.

The next footage the jury sees is at 9:30am when the accused returns to the CityLife hotel barefoot.

The court is now taking a lunch break until 2:15pm.

A shovel similar to that the accused bought.
A shovel similar to that the accused bought. Photo credit: NZ Police / Supplied

1pm - The public gallery is full, with people standing around the door and sitting on the floor.

12:52pm - At about 9:25pm, the accused drives the hired car back to the CityLife hotel and parks it outside. He gets out, does something in the boot, and then goes into the hotel.

He grabs a baggage trolley and wheels it to the lift.

CCTV footage soon captures the man wheeling the trolley from his room floor and into a lift. On it are two suitcases and a sports bag. These are taken to the hired car at 9:31pm.

During this, both David and Gillian Millane were visibly upset and wiping their eyes.

12:42pm - Later that evening at 7:30pm, the accused drives the car he hired to a Countdown. He approaches a RugDoctor stand before returning to his car. He doesn't purchase anything.

The accused returns to the CityLife hotel before going back to the Countdown at 8:11pm. He and a Countdown employee approach the RugDoctor stand and the accused can later be seen rolling one of the machines away.

The accused takes the machine back to CityLife and is in there for about 30 minutes before returning the RugDoctor to the supermarket.

12:28pm - At about 4:29pm, the accused is seen at a bar in Ponsonby. He is sitting at an outside table with a beer. The next part of the footage the jury sees is the man leaving the bar with a woman at about 5:25pm. Det Bicknell says the pair were on a date.

12:21pm - Footage then shows the man leaving the CityLife hotel and going to the local Countdown supermarket at 8:35am. Inside, the accused purchases multiple cleaning products. He then heads back to the hotel.

At 10:25am, the man again leaves CityLife hotel and takes a taxi to a car rental store near Victoria Park. He hires a vehicle for one day.

The accused buying cleaning products.
The accused buying cleaning products. Photo credit: Newshub

12:10pm - After exiting the lift at about 8:07am, the accused walks to the Atrium shopping centre on Elliot St, where he enters The Warehouse. Inside, the man approaches a large group of suitcases, picks one out and wheels it to the counter.

A receipt shown to the jury confirms the accused purchased the suitcase.

The accused then wheels this back to the CityLife hotel at 8:14am.

12:05pm - The court has now resumed, with Det Adam Bicknell returning to the witness box. He is the officer in charge of CCTV footage and previously gave evidence to the court.

The last shot of CCTV footage the jury saw was Millane and the accused leaving the CityLife hotel elevator. The jury is now seeing video from December 2 at 8am, with the accused going down in the lift.

The public gallery continues to be overflowing with people.

11:43am - Under cross-examination, Det Settle confirms to the court that sometime after the end of the video, the accused asks to see a lawyer. Defence lawyer Ian Brookie soon arrives.

Det Settle has now finished giving evidence and the court is taking a short break.

11:39am - After another short break, Det Settle tells the man they have reached a point where he needs to advise the accused of his rights.

He then shows the man a picture and asks him whether he is in it. The accused says he is.

The picture is of the accused in the CityLife elevator at 8am on December 2 with a suitcase.

Det Settle asks how this can be as the accused had told him he was asleep until 9am or 10am.

"I may have got the times wrong."

The accused soon tells Det Settle he purchased the suitcase that day at The Warehouse.

The detective again questions how that can be if he was asleep. The accused then admits he had been at the Warehouse in the morning.

Soon after this, the video interview ends.

Det Settle tells the court that the accused purchased another suitcase on December 3.

11:22am - Det Settle tells the man police are concerned for the safety of Millane and say it is a possibility she has been the victim of foul play.

He asks the accused if he would be happy to give DNA to police, which the accused agrees to.

"I know I haven't done anything wrong".

The detective then informs the man he would need to fill out some paperwork which may be "confrontational". He tells the accused it is possible "someone might have murdered [Millane]".

While the accused is waiting for the paperwork to be brought to him, he asks an officer: "Am I being arrested for something I didn't do?"

"No, you haven't been arrested."

Grace Millane murder trial: Live updates as police interview, CCTV footage shown to jury

11:07am - In the video, the accused says he woke up on December 2 at about 9am or 10am and vomited.

"I was definitely sober, my head was spinning though."

He believes he had been helped into the hotel by a concierge - similar to another night earlier that week where he woke up in the street outside the CityLife hotel.

After eating a steak which he "struggled" to consume, he met with a friend in Ponsonby at about 5pm. He had two drinks there.

Questioned by Det Settle about how much he drinks, the accused says he drinks a lot in the weekends.

10:43am - After leaving Millane, the accused claims he went to a pub at the bottom of Queen St. He doesn't say the name, but describes the bar as "black" with "old decor".

"It was pretty old, pretty old and dusty place," he says.

He drank ten beers at the pub and doesn't have much recollection of what happened after.

10:35am - The police interview is now playing again for the jury. In it, he is giving a version of events that would later be contradicted by CCTV footage of his and Millane's movement on December 1.

The accused tells Detective Ewen Settle that he and Millane planned to catch up on December 2 for Millane's 22nd birthday.

After their date, when he went to confirm this by a message over Tinder, he says he realised Millane had unmatched him.

He says he thought to himself he must have done something wrong.

The accused says when he left Millane at about 8pm on the night of December 1, he hugged her and kissed her on the cheek.

 

10:00 - The proceedings are about to get underway. Outside the courtroom, a large number of people are waiting to be let in.

9:30am - Wednesday's hearing is scheduled to begin at 10am. The jury will begin by watching the rest of the accused's December 6 interview with police. The final part the court viewed on Tuesday involved the accused speaking about parting ways with Millane and going to a pub to drink.

Newshub.

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