Grace Millane, the British backpacker who was killed during a trip to New Zealand after meeting a man for a Tinder date, was likely strangled for several minutes, an expert has claimed.
As the trial against the unnamed 27-year-old man accused of killing Millane continues, a forensic pathologist provided testimony to a jury, detailing the injuries he observed on Millane’s body when he first examined her in December, The Guardian reports.
Dr. Simon Stables said that he believes Millane, whose bruised body was found abandoned in a suitcase last year, died from someone placing pressure on her neck “for long enough and with enough force for that bruising to occur,” according to The Guardian. It would take “quite a bit of effort” for enough pressure to be placed on her neck to cause the kind of bruising that she was left with and it would take four or five minutes for someone to die from those types of injuries, he said.
“From my point of view it is incredibly rare; I have never heard of another case … in New Zealand,” he said of Millane’s condition.
Millane was traveling around the world on her own before she was killed, having spent six weeks in South America before spending two weeks in New Zealand, where she met the man who would later be accused of murdering her, the BBC reports.
Millane and her accused killer — whose name has not been shared, in accordance with New Zealand law — met on Tinder and went out together on Dec. 1, 2018, according to The Guardian. CCTV footage shows the pair visiting various eateries that evening before they went back to the accused’s hotel room at CityLife hotel, the outlet reports. Millane was last seen alive in CCTV footage showing her going into the accused man’s room.
Her body was later found stuffed inside of a suitcase that had been buried in a shallow grave in the Waitakere Ranges, a mountainous area near Auckland, according to the BBC. She was 22 years old.
Stable told a jury that Millane had 12 bruises on her body, primarily concentrated around her upper arms, her left shoulder, and her collarbone area, The Guardian reports. He theorized that nine of those bruises were sustained “probably around the time of death,” with the bruises on her upper arms and left shoulder in particular being indicative of having been restrained.
Prosecutors have accused Millane’s Tinder date of strangling her to death, but his defense team has claimed that Millane accidentally died when “acts designed to enhance sexual pleasure went wrong,” according to the BBC. However, prosecutors have pointed to the defendant’s alleged actions after Millane’s death — which include looking at pornography online, researching “rigor mortis,” and going out on a date with another Tinder match — as evidence of something more nefarious at play.
The trial is expected to conclude in early December.
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