Grace Millane's killer loses appeal against convictions and sentences for sexual attacks

Amy Williams for RNZ

Warning: This story and related coverage of the trial contain graphic details that may be distressing for some readers.

The man serving a life sentence for murdering British backpacker Grace Millane has lost appeals against convictions and sentences for sexual attacks on two other women.

Jesse Kempson was originally sentenced to 11 years' jail for raping a former partner and seven years' jail for sexually assaulting another former partner.

Jesse Kempson.
Jesse Kempson. Photo credit: RNZ / Dan Cook

The Court of Appeal said neither of the sentences contained any errors of law and 11 years for rape was not manifestly excessive.

"We do not consider an error occurred here in not applying greater discounts," the Court of Appeal panel said in its judgement.

"In any case, we reiterate, the ultimate focus in a sentence appeal is on the end result and whether the sentence is within range, rather than how the Court may have arrived at it."

Already imprisoned for life, Kempson appeared via video link in the High Court at Auckland in November last year in a bid to appeal his convictions and sentences relating to two women he attacked and violated.

It was not the first time Kempson had asked to appeal convictions and jail time handed down to him. In 2020 he took an appeal over the Millane ruling to the Supreme Court and lost.

The two women told the police what Kempson had done to them after they realised he was the man charged with killing Millane four years ago.

At the time, the 22-year-old's disappearance attracted international attention and the discovery of her body in the Waitākere Ranges sent shockwaves around the world.

Following the murder trial in 2019 Kempson went on to face two further trials at the High Court at Auckland.

He was convicted of raping one woman and the sexual violation; physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse of an ex-girlfriend.

At the first trial in October 2020, Kempson's ex-girlfriend - who cannot be identified - described in graphic detail the escalating physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse she suffered during their relationship.

He slapped and pushed her during arguments, drained her savings account of more than $10,000, and once held a knife to her throat before forcing her to perform sexual acts against her will.

The woman left the relationship after seven months and obtained a protection order against him.

Kempson was jailed for seven-and-a-half years.

In the second trial in November 2020, he was found guilty of raping another woman he had met on Tinder, and jailed for three-and-a-half years.

In her victim impact statement, read to the court by a support counsellor at Kempson's sentencing, the woman said she was not the same person any more, but could now walk away from the assault knowing the man did not have any power over her.

Kempson is already serving a life sentence with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years for Millane's murder.