Grace Millane: Supreme Court rejects Jesse Kempson's appeal

His application has been dismissed.
His application has been dismissed. Photo credit: Newshub.

The Supreme Court has dismissed Grace Millane's killer's application to appeal his conviction for her murder.

Jesse Kempson was found guilty in November 2019 of murdering the British backpacker in a central Auckland apartment after a date in December 2018. While he argued Millane's death was an accident during consensual rough sex, the jury decided otherwise. He was sentenced in February 2020 to life in prison, with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.

The killer had name suppression until December last year when it was lifted following a ruling by the Supreme Court. It was also revealed at the time that he had been found guilty of a number of other violent offences relating to two other women. 

An attempt to appeal both his conviction and sentence failed at the Court of Appeal last year, before Kempson then tried to take his case to the Supreme Court. However, his application was rejected on Tuesday.

"By their verdict, the jury showed that they were sure that if the applicant did not intend to kill the deceased, he at least intended to inflict bodily injury which he knew was likely to result in death," the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.

"The most that could be taken from the applicant’s account is that Ms Millane may have consented to the application of manual pressure to her neck for the purposes of sexual gratification. There is nothing in what the applicant told the police to suggest that she consented (or he believed she consented) to the infliction of bodily injury of a kind likely to kill her.

"For these reasons, albeit slightly differently expressed, the Court of Appeal was of the view the argument failed 'as a matter of fact'. We see no apparent error in this conclusion."

The court also said Kempson's actions following Millane's death - which included searching for pornography and taking intimate images of her body - "are not easily reconcilable with his innocent accident explanation". 

"Nor are the actions that he later took to dispose of her body. Importantly, his narrative (such as it was) was not particularly congruent with the pathology evidence given at trial."

The full judgement can be found here.