- Warning: This story contains gruesome details.
- Grace Millane, a British backpacker, died after going on a Tinder date with a man in Auckland, New Zealand, hours before her 22nd birthday last December.
- Her body was found in woodland near the city around a week after her disappearance.
- The 27-year-old man, who cannot be named, has denied murdering her but said she died by accident during rough consensual sex, Sky News reported.
- He also previously told police that he had left Millane at 8 p.m. then went out drinking with his friends and blacking out until 10 a.m. the next day.
- But footage shown to an Auckland court this week showed the man buying a new suitcase at 8 a.m, and transporting two suitcases out of his hotel that night.
- Prosecutors say Millane’s body was in one of the suitcases.
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A court has been shown surveillance footage of a man, accused of murdering a 21-year-old backpacker in New Zealand, pushing a suitcase that prosecutors say contained her body.
Grace Millane, from southeastern England, had been travelling in New Zealand and met up with the suspect in Auckland after meeting on Tinder on December 1, 2018. They met on the night before her 22nd birthday.
She was last seen at the CityLife Hotel in Auckland – the same hotel where the man had been staying.
Prosecutors say the suspect strangled Millane before putting her body in a suitcase, the BBC reported. Her body was found in the Waitakere Ranges, in the city’s western outskirts, on December 9 last year, around a week after her disappearance.
Police confirmed at the time: “Grace’s body was intact when it was recovered.”
Videos from December 2, the day after Millane went missing, show the man transporting two suitcases into an elevator, and out of the hotel.
You can watch some of the footage below. The suspect is the man whose face has been blurred:
Prosecutors said Millane’s body was stuffed inside one of the suitcases, the BBC and The Guardian reported. After carting the suitcases out of the hotel, the suspect placed them into a car he hired earlier that day, The Guardian reported.
Here’s what the footage shows, according to The Guardian and footage published by MailOnline:
- Around 8 a.m: The suspect buys a grey suitcase inside a mall.
- 8:14 a.m: He returns to the hotel and takes the suitcase into the elevator.
- 9:40 a.m: He enters a car rental store and speaks to people there.
- Undated: He is seen buying cleaning products from a supermarket.
- 7:44 p.m: A red car is seen near the hotel.
- 7:46 p.m: The suspect is seen entering the hotel elevator, likely to return to his room.
- 9:30 p.m: He enters the hotel elevator again, with two suitcases – a smaller black one stacked on top of a larger grey one – with a hotel luggage cart into the hotel elevator, and out of the hotel.
- The next day: The suspect drives west of Auckland, and stops to buy a red shovel. He was also seen buying cleaning products from another store, the BBC reported.
The court heard that he used the suitcase to take Millane’s body to the woods, and buried it that morning, Sky News reported.
The footage below shows the man buying a shovel and renting a car:
The surveillance videos also revealed discrepancies in the man’s previous testimony.
The suspect had told officers in his first interview that he said goodbye to Millane with “a hug and a kiss on the cheek” after their date on December 1, then went drinking with friends, MailOnline reported.
He said he left Millane at 8 p.m. and ended up getting drunk, blacking out, and having hotel concierge carry him to bed, according to The Guardian.
He said he woke up at 10 a.m. in his hotel the next day, and tried to text Millane on Tinder, but she had unmatched to him, MailOnline reported.
The man also said he went to an Irish pub for a steak breakfast, spent the day in bed, and subsequently fell asleep.
But when detectives showed footage of him entering his hotel with a new suitcase, he said, according to MailOnline: “I might have got the times wrong but if you are assuming I was using that suitcase for something [else] I’ve still got it in my room and you guys can have it.”
He maintains that he had a second, identical suitcase that he left in his room, Sky News reported.
Another woman, who was not named, told the Auckland court she had gone on a date with the suspect on December 2, during which he calmly discussed the possibility of accidentally killing people during sex.
“He said he had heard of a guy who had asked his girlfriend to have rough sex with him, strangulation and asphyxiation,” she said, according to the BBC.
“He has tried to revive her but she died and he got sent down for manslaughter,” she cited him saying.
He said: “It’s crazy how guys can make one wrong move and go to jail for the rest of their life,” she told the court, according to MailOnline.
He had also remarked on the number of bodies buried in Waitakere Ranges, where Millane’s body was discovered, the BBC reported the journalist as saying.
New Zealand Prime Minister apologised to Millane’s family last year, saying: “Your daughter should have been safe here and she wasn’t, and I’m sorry for that.”
Thousands of people in New Zealand gathered for candlelight vigils for Millane shortly after her death. Her father, David, flew to New Zealand and took part in a Māori ceremony at the place where her body was found.
In a statement issued by the police, he thanked New Zealanders for their support and said “she will forever be a Kiwi.”
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