British backpacker Grace Millane’s killer ‘took trophy photos after she died’, ‘eroticised her death’ and ‘sought total domination over women who were his sexual partners' prosecution says
- Jurors heard Grace Millane's alleged killer took photographs of her genitalia
- Prosecution said the 27-year-old accused had a 'morbid interest' in dead women
- The man, who cannot be identified, says she died by accident during rough sex
- Defence said man was 'doing what he thought women wanted in the bedroom'
- Argued Ms Millane and the defendant both took pictures of each other after sex
British backpacker Grace Millane was murdered by a man 'seeking total domination over women who were his sexual partners', a court heard today.
The 22-year-old university student's alleged killer also took 'trophy photographs' following her death because of a 'morbid interest in a dead woman's genitalia,' the jury heard, as the trial of a 27-year-old man accused of murder came to a close.
Prosecutor Brian Dickey made his closing speech at Auckland High Court saying there was a 'compelling case of murder' against the defendant and argued he had 'eroticised Ms Millane's death'.
While the defence argued that Ms Millane died in a tragic accident during rough sex, and said the defendant's actions after her death - which included buying cleaning supplies - can be explained by panic.
Grace Millane (pictured) discussed BDSM sex with a man she met on a kinky dating app, including her interest in electrical nerve stimulation and 'breathplay' using a gas mask
A 27-year-old man, whose identity is also protected, has denied murdering Ms Millane (left and right) on December 1 last year, the night before her 22nd birthday
The prosecutor highlighted how pictures of Ms Millane's genitalia had been taken and told the jury that the graduate died from 'strangulation'.
Mr Dickey said: 'There's really no way out of the photographs for the defendant.
'If they were taken while she was alive, it was proof he was already planning her death and disposal. If she was dead, it proved the man had eroticised her death.
He added: 'It's not safe sex play that killed Grace Millane, it's strangulation. At some point of which she lost consciousness and would have become limp and lifeless and he had to carry on.
'And if that's not reckless murder someone will have to explain to me what is.'
However defence barrister Ian Brookie hit back and said the prosecutions attempt to prove seven intimate photos taken of Miss Millane were after her death rested on two internet searches he made minutes before.
They were for 'waitakere ranges', the hills where the defendant later buried her body in a suitcase, and 'hottest fire'.
The first, he said, 'could have been about where they going to go the next day. She was a visitor to New Zealand'.
The second 'could mean anything'. They could, he suggested, be part of the 'phenomenon of the random Google search' , which was 'common during drunken conversations.'
The defendant, who chose not to give evidence, told police in an interview that he and Miss Millane had taken pictures of each others' genitals during sex.
The 27-year-old man who is accused of Grace's murder, pictured centre in court, cannot be identified for legal reasons
And he admitted throwing away the her phone in a rubbish bin in the park. This, said Mr Brookie, was 'an ill advised move because that phone contains evidence that helps him.'
Mr Brookie also argued that the alleged murderer was 'just a young man who is prepared to do what his sexual partners want him to do in the bedroom.'
It was 'abundantly clear', barrister Ian Brookie told the jury, that Miss Millane, a backpacker from Wickford, Essex, liked to be choked during sex.
He said the pair had clearly discussed it, because the accused told police that Grace had learned BDSM techniques from a previous partner, a fact that he could not have known unless a discussion had taken place.
'It was part of the sexual act they were doing and it was fun,' said Mr Brookie. 'He was not experienced enough to actually know how to do this properly and what the dangers actually were.
'They were in the heat of the moment together, their judgment and perceptions were impaired by alcohol. They were focused on having sex
Mr Brookie said: 'What they were doing, putting pressure in each others' necks, is now just a part of having sex for some people.
'They were not thinking of it as a dangerous act. She was encouraging him to do this and to apply more force because this what she liked.'
The idea, he said, was not violence or pain, but to heighten her sexual pleasure, but their inexperience, coupled with alcohol, meant safety was not their priority.
'He reached orgasm and went to the shower. He never for a moment considered that Miss Millane might be in trouble.'
In summing up the prosecution case, Mr Dickey said evidence by expert pathology witnesses made it clear that it would take between five and ten minutes of sustained pressure before Grace, a university graduate from Essex, would have died.
And he said the Crown did not have to prove the man, whose identity is protected, had meant to kill her, only that he was reckless about what he was doing.
'If you kill someone by conscious risk taking that is murder,' he said.
Making their case: The jury heard closing speeches today from Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey, left, and defence lawyer Ian Brookie, right
'If you are satisfied he knew that he was doing something that was causing some level of harm.'
Mr Dickey dismissed the man's version of events in a second police interview, where he claimed he had fallen asleep in the shower of his apartment and found Grace dead on the floor hours later, as a 'labyrinth of storytelling.'
He had lied about trying to take an overdose of pills after she died because 'he's trying to make out he's a decent human being', Mr Dickey alleged.
In fact, he said, the man had been searching for a place and a way of disposing of Grace's body and then taken seven intimate photographs of her before watching hardcore porn.
These were all facts he had avoided telling police when he admitted Grace had died in his room after a Tinder date last December.
Mr Dickey told the jury of seven women and five men: 'You mustn't forget she is just a living, breathing, happy young woman. She had a nice evening out.
'She had met someone she was interested in. She was walking around town, had some kissing. We are not talking about a body, we are talking about a real person.'
Mr Dickey said the man's claim to police that he was distressed by what had happened to 'a person he had a real connection with', could be dismissed by the way he treated her with 'a complete and utter absence of dignity.'
Rather than calling emergency services he had bought cleaning supplies and arranged another Tinder date for that afternoon.
She told him she had begun her interest in BDSM through a past boyfriend but he told the court she was still quite naive
Justice Simon Moore, pictured today, has been presiding over the trial at Auckland High Court
And he said the man had still never admitted to causing her death, only 'a little touchy touchy on the throat.'
Defending, Mr Brookie said there was no physical evidence of an assault, and that the accused had put sustained pressure on Grace's neck because 'that's what he thought he was supposed to be doing.'
The barrister admitted that on their date the man may have told Grace a 'white lie' about being an oil company manager, but only because 'he is insecure, single, he is trying to find a relationship, trying to impress girls.'
And after her death, the man lied again about the events but he had panicked and although he had 'acted selfishly' and what he did was 'unacceptable' it only meant he was unable to cope in a crisis.
'The stakes were high,' he said. 'This is not knocking over a milk jug, this is someone dead on his floor. It looks terrible.
'This is not murder,' said Mr Brookie, 'it's a tragic, unintended, unforeseen accident.'
Hitting back, Mr Dickey said the defence are not admitting murder or manslaughter, but are instead 'saying no foul, accident, he should walk free. It's a terrible business but he didn't do anything wrong.'
And, he said, the defence claimed what the accused did after Grace's death was down to panic and did not help the jury decide how she died.
In fact, said Mr Dickey, the defendant had been 'nonchalant' as he went to buy a second suitcase to replace the one in which he buried Grace's body in the woods.
'He as cool as a cucumber, able to say to Detective Settle, 'Don't worry about that, that's still in my room, go and have a look. I haven't bought a suitcase to dispose of a body.
'Thats the level of planning, almost as if he is playing a game with the police, that tells you something about his mindset. He's pretty good at this.'
Mr Dickey said Grace's sexual history, during which she practiced consensual choking with a former partner, was irrelevant.
Her death, he said, "is not sex gone wrong". It can't be consent because of what was happening. She must have gone limp and he must have carried on and that must be murder.'
Judge Simon Moore will sum up the case on Friday morning before the jury consider their verdict.
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