Grace Millane murder trial: Live updates as second police interview plays, Scott Beard gives evidence

Warning: This story contains content people may find disturbing. 

The last of the Crown's witnesses gave evidence at the trial of the man accused of killing Grace Millane.

The 27-year-old man is charged with murdering the young British backpacker in December last year after going out on a Tinder date in Auckland Central. The Defence, however, argues the death was an accident during consensual rough sex. A pathologist has told the court her cause of death was sustained pressure to the neck.

The trial was originally set down for four to five weeks, but on Wednesday, presiding Justice Simon Moore informed the jury that excellent progress was being made and the trial would probably finish earlier than expected.

The Crown wrapped up its case on Thursday afternoon, after Detective Inspector Scott Beard gave evidence. Det Insp Beard was the face of the missing persons and then homicide investigation last year and travelled to the United Kingdom to be with Millane's family at her funeral earlier this year.

The jury was also shown a police interview with the accused conducted on December 8 - the day police announced a man had been charged with murder.

Several other witnesses also gave evidence via statements read out in court.

More coverage of the trial can be found here.

Live updates have now finished.

4:38pm - Court proceedings have now finished for Thursday.
The next public trial hearing will likely be on Monday.

4:22pm - The Crown has closed its case at the Auckland High Court.

The final evidence given was a written set of agreed facts read out by prosecutor Robin McCoubrey.

He says Millane and the accused matched on Tinder on November 30. No one residing in the CityLife hotel rooms adjacent to that in which Millane and the accused were in heard any disturbance. No blood was found in the hired rental vehicle.

4:17pm - Under cross-examination, Dr Healy says that in a dynamic, moving situation in which strangulation occurs, there isn't a minimum amount of time it would take for death to occur. Each time pressure is released, the "clock" resets.

Dr Healy has now finished giving evidence.

4:08pm - In her statement, Dr Healy says that during strangulation, the victim's breathing may become raspy, the victims may struggle, and they may become unconscious.

For death to occur, pressure will typically need to occur for a-minute-and-a-half to six minutes.

She says that someone may have a blood nose after pressure is applied to the neck. But it's not something she has seen.

The doctor is only an expert in people who have survived strangulation, not those who have died.

3:57pm - Dr Healy was streaming into the court from Australia, but as she gave her evidence, numerous technical issues arose. As a result, Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey is reading a statement from her. Dr Healey may be asked questions from the defence afterwards.

3:44pm - Dr Healy is going over the anatomy of the neck, saying that the brain requires blood from the heart. When the windpipe and veins have pressure applied to them, death can occur.

3:36pm - The court has now resumed. The final witness is Dr Clare Healey, who is an expert in sexual assaults and family violence. She has a speciality in strangulation, particularly in a domestic violence context.

2:45pm - Det Insp Beard confirms that polling data led officers to the Waitakere Ranges on December 8.

He says about 70 staff were involved in the investigation by December 9.

That is all the evidence Det Insp Beard is required to give.

The court is now taking a short break. The next witness is expected to be the Crown’s final.

2:42pm - On Wednesday, the jury saw CCTV footage of the accused getting into an Uber on December 6 at 5:18am.

Det Insp Beard confirms the man travelled to Mission Bay for eight minutes. CCTV footage from the Auckland suburb couldn't be retrieved. He says businesses and organisations often overwrite CCTV footage after a week, while other footage isn't kept indefinitely.

The detective inspector tells the court that police efforts focused on getting CCTV footage from the central city in the first parts of the investigation.

The woman the accused said he had arranged to meet with on the night of December 1 was also tracked down by police. Det Insp Beard says they had planned to meet for lunch, but she cancelled. They didn't arrange to meet that night.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard.
Detective Inspector Scott Beard. Photo credit: Getty

2:36pm - Detective Inspector Scott Beard is giving evidence. He was in charge of the Millane investigation and is in the witness box to provide an overview of the case.

He says he had inquiries made to find the items the accused put in the Albert Park rubbish bin that weren't still in the bin when officers checked it.

That led officers to an East Tamaki rubbish tip. However, due to the resources required to search the large tip, a decision was made to not continue the search.

This meant Millane's cellphone was never recovered.

1:04pm - The doctor who examined the accused after his arrest is giving evidence.

Dr Samuel Rawlings tells the court there were two bruises on the accused’s chest, which could be a week old. 

There were also small cuts on his hands likely older than two days as they were well healed.

Under cross-examination, Dr Rawlings confirms the accused was cooperative during the examination. 

He says the abrasions on his hands were minor.

Court has adjourned for the lunch break. 

Justice Simon Moore has indicated to the jury that the Crown expects to finish its case on Thursday afternoon.

12:37pm - 
Det Settle is now being cross-examined by Defence lawyer Ron Mansfield.

Det Settle confirms the accused was cooperative throughout the process before and after his arrest, including telling police where Grace’s body was.

12:17pm - The jury sees the moment the accused is arrested for Millane’s murder.

Accused says he didn’t intend to cause the death, but admits she probably died in his company.

He says he is telling police his version of events because of "her family". He wants her family to have closure.

The video ends shortly after.

During this, the accused wipes his eyes in the dock.

Grace Millane murder trial: Live updates as second police interview plays, Scott Beard gives evidence
Photo credit: Newshub

12:00pm - Court has resumed with the video of the police interview still playing.

The accused tells Det Settle that he put all of Millane’s possessions in an Albert Park rubbish bin.

He also says the hole he placed the suitcase and Millane’s body in was very shallow. The accused says he could take police to the location.

He also tells the detective that he doesn’t know if blood was coming from anywhere other than her nose.

"I don’t do blood very well."

11:41am -
 Det Settle asks the accused to expand on what happened during sex. He says she asked him to be more vigorous, which he complied with.

The accused also gives more detail about finding Grace.

He says she was lying face up on the ground. He tried to wake her up by shaking her. He also listened to hear if she was breathing. The accused describes the body as "cold".

During this, there was very little light in the room. He couldn’t see if she had any injuries.

The accused tells Det Settle that he dialled 111, but didn’t hit go.

"I was scared how bad it looked. There is a dead person in my room. I thought it looked terrible. I was in utter shock that that had happened".

He tells Det Settle that he tried to dab up blood on the floor next to the bed. He also cleaned parts where he found spots of blood.

The court has now stopped for a short break.

11:35am - The accused says in the interview Grace told him about her sexual activity with previous partners. 

He says the type of sex they had was not something he was used to and at first he felt "uncomfortable" but he eventually came to be open to it.

11:10am - After a short break in the police interview, the accused describes to Det Settle what he did after finding Millane on the floor. He says he was in a state of "shock".

"I realised she was not alive".

The accused says he purchased a suitcase from The Warehouse. When he got back to the hotel, he says he considered taking his own life.

He tried to place Millane in a suitcase. He says he struggled with this as "it didn’t seem right". 

He says he left her hanging half out of the bag.

After going to purchase cleaning products and meeting someone at the Revelry Bar in Ponsonby, where he consumed alcohol, he eventually got Grace into the suitcase and then into his car.

The next day he says he drove to the Waitakere Ranges with Grace's body in the suitcase.

He dug a hole in the bush in which he put the suitcase in. He says he again wanted to take his own life.

"I didn’t want to be around if Grace wasn’t there. I didn’t feel I deserved to be around because of what happened."

Grace Millane murder trial: Live updates as second police interview plays, Scott Beard gives evidence

10:47am - After going to the Mexican cafe, the pair walk to the Bluestone Room bar. He tells Det Settle they had more drinks here. 

The accused says he and Grace were intoxicated. He remembers leaving the bar and then being in the hotel room.

Inside the hotel, the man says the pair kissed before Millane began talking about the film 50 Shades of Grey. They then had normal, "placid" sex.

He tells the detective that shortly afterwards, Millane wanted to involve "bondage".

He says she asked him to bite her, which he did. He says he stopped and asked if that was really what she wanted.

"Let’s go with it," the accused says she replied.

He says at one point she held him around his neck and pushed down. He says they then swapped over and began having more "violent sex". 

The pair ended up on the floor.

The accused says Millane asked him to hold her arms tighter as well as her throat.

The pair then finished having sex and he went into the shower sweaty. He says he passed out, but later woke up, went to his bed, and thought Millane had left.

He woke up later in the morning to find Millane on the ground with her nose bleeding.

“I screamed, I yelled out at her. I tried to move her to see if she was awake.”

At this point he asks for a short break.

Grace Millane murder trial: Live updates as second police interview plays, Scott Beard gives evidence
Photo credit: Supplied

10:37am - The interview begins by the accused giving his account of what happened on the night of December 1.

He says the pair went to Andy’s Burger Bar after meeting outside SkyCity. Here they had about five or six cocktails.

The accused then admits the pair walked to the Mexican Cafe. In a previous police interview, he told the police he parted ways with Millane after leaving Andy’s Burger Bar.

10:27am - Det Ewen Settle has been recalled by the Crown. He interviewed the accused on both December 6 and December 8.

The jury members saw the December 6 interview on Wednesday and are now watching the December 8 interview. 

10:12am - Court has resumed for Thursday’s session.

It begins with two witness statements read out by Crown prosecutor. One statement is from the man who served the accused at the Kumeu ITM. The witness describes the man as a "nice person to talk to".

The second is from a woman who interacted with the man at a chemist. She says he acted "oddly" and had what she believed were hives on his hands.

10:00am - 
Grace's parents David and Gillian Millane have arrived and have been allowed into the court before the rest of the public.

The pair were visibly upset viewing some of the evidence yesterday. 

9:30am -
What is expected to be the last day of the Crown's case will begin at 10am. The public gallery is expected to be full.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard, who led the investigation, is expected to give evidence today.  

A recap of Wednesday's events can be found here