A man who claims he accidentally killed his Tinder date in a rough sex act gone wrong has been found guilty of her murder.
After three weeks of trial — described as one of the most publicized murder cases in New Zealand’s history — a 27-year-old New Zealand man has been convicted of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane, the Guardian reports.
The suspect has not been named in accordance with New Zealand law.
Millane and her killer met up after connecting through the dating app Tinder while she was visiting Auckland last December. They went on a date at Sky City casino the night before her 22nd birthday and Millane even texted her friend during it that she and the man were hitting it off. A week later, her remains were found in a suitcase in a shallow grave by the side of a road in a bushland area west of the city.
Millane’s killer initially claimed that they had parted separately after sharing some drinks but later admitted that he took her back to his hotel room at Auckland's CityLife Hotel where they engaged in consensual rough sex. He claimed he only noticed the next morning that Millane was dead when he saw her on the floor with blood coming out of her nose, the BBC reports. The killer’s defense claimed she died of a BDSM act gone wrong.
Defense attorney Ian Brookie said his client was “just a young man prepared to do what his sexual partners want him to do in the bedroom” claiming that “he was not experienced enough to actually know how to do this properly and what the dangers actually were,” according to the British tabloid, The Mirror.
The prosecution, however, denounced that theory during the trial and argued that he used “reckless violence” against her by choking her for a prolonged time, the Guardian reports.
A forensic pathologist, who testified for the prosecution, said it would have taken about five to 10 minutes for Millane to have died from choking and noted that before dying she would have passed out first.
“You can’t consent to your own murder,” crown prosecutor Brian Dickey said. “This isn’t a little bit of sex gone wrong […] because the person doing that must have known that they were hurting her, causing her harm, that might well cause her death, but they were reckless and carried on, and she died.”
Prosecutors noted earlier in the trial that after Millane died, her killer began alternately searching online for pornography and for ways to dispose of her body. He even took photos of her post-death.
"He wasn't distressed or concerned by her death," prosecutor Robin McCoubrey said, according to the BBC. In between porn searches, the killed looked up "large bags near me" and "rigor mortis,” according to the prosecution.
He even went on a Tinder date with another woman the next day while Millane’s body was stuffed in a suitcase in his hotel room, McCoubrey said.
The verdict was reached after five hours of deliberation by a jury consisting of seven women and five men. Millane's parents David and Gillian cried as the verdict was read as their daughter’s killer remained emotionless, according to the BBC.
"Grace was our sunshine and she will be missed forever," Millane’s father told reporters after her killer was convicted.
The killer’s stepbrother told New Zealand outlet TVNZ that his sibling is "a pathological liar that lies over pointless things and continues to lie until the point where he's got no out - absolutely no out - and then he just breaks down and cries and runs away."
Millane had been traveling solo around the world. Before visiting New Zealand, she'd spent six weeks in South America. Friends and family began to worry about her after she didn’t respond to an outpouring of well wishes for her birthday.
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