Grace Millane murder: Jesse Kempson named as killer as name suppression lifts

The man who murdered British backpacker Grace Millane can finally be named as Jesse Shane Kempson.

On Tuesday, court orders preventing the publication of Kempson's identity were lifted. Media have been unable to identify Kempson since December 2018 when he was first accused of strangling the British backpacker to death in Auckland's CityLife Hotel. Her body was found days later buried in the Waitakere Ranges. 

While Kempson rejected the accusation of murder, he was convicted of the charge in November 2019 following a three-week trial at the Auckland High Court. In February this year, he was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.

Despite the jury returning a unanimous decision in a matter of hours, Kempson's name has remained protected.

Last Thursday, the Court of Appeal declined to keep his name suppressed past Friday when it dismissed his appeals against his conviction and sentence. Kempson then applied for leave from the Supreme Court to appeal that suppression decision and keep his name secret. 

However, New Zealand's top court today decided it won't hear that appeal, meaning Newshub can now, after more than two years, name the man who murdered Millane. 

Kempson's trial last year made headlines both in New Zealand and around the world. 

Throughout court proceedings, he remained largely emotionless, but did appear to get upset during opening statements. In the court's gallery most days was his father - often staring at the ground - joined occasionally by his wife and stepson.

During the trial, Kempson's lawyers argued that Millane's death was an accident that occurred during a form of rough sex. But the prosecution successfully argued Kempson murdered the British woman after a roughly four-hour-long Tinder date.

Despite having his name suppressed, Kempson's identity has been routinely exposed by international media. His name also appeared in an email sent by Google to New Zealand subscribers following his arrest, something which received harsh condemnation by then-Justice Minister Andrew Little.