Two people left the courtroom in tears as the Grace Millane murder trial unfolded this week.

They couldn't be more different.

One was Grace's heartbroken mother Gillian, on the second day of the trial on Thursday, as the court heard that naked photos were taken of her daughter's body.

The other was the 27-year-old man accused of the 22-year-old British backpacker's murder, who halted proceedings when he felt unwell on the opening day.


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The jury of seven women and five men will listen to evidence for the next four or five weeks.

At the heart of the murder case is the central question: Was Grace murdered, as the prosecution outlined on Wednesday, or, as the defence put forward in its opening statement, was she killed accidentally during a sex game gone wrong?

'Grace can't tell us'

Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey said on Wednesday in the High Court at Auckland only two people could answer that and "Grace can't tell us".

Grace Millane during the weekend of her 22nd birthday last December. Photo / Supplied
Grace Millane during the weekend of her 22nd birthday last December. Photo / Supplied

McCoubrey said the evidence included the discovery of the young woman's body, which had been stuffed into a Warehouse suitcase and buried in a shallow grave in the Waitakere Ranges in West Auckland.

It would also include CCTV footage of the pair shot in central Auckland only hours before she vanished.

Those who packed into courtroom 11 on Parliament St listened to two distinct versions of the last hours of Millane and the actions of the man who allegedly murdered her in December last year. He has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Grace Millane murder trial: Man accused of murdering Grace Millane pleads not guilty. Video / Chris Tarpey

Millane, a university graduate on her OE and travelling around New Zealand, vanished the day before her 22nd birthday, December 1.


CCTV last showed Millane alive about 9.40pm that day entering Auckland's CityLife Hotel with the accused, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Her body was eventually found on December 9 in the Waitakere Ranges.

The other person who knew what happened sat in the dock in a white shirt and blue suit.

The man had given a police interview on December 8 last year, parts of which McCoubrey read out.

The accused claimed he and Millane, who had met on the dating app Tinder and drank heavily that night, had rough sex in the hotel room before he passed out in the shower.
"I crawled back into bed ... I thought Grace had left," he told police.

But when he woke, he said, Millane was "lying on the floor, I saw she had blood coming from her nose".

But McCoubrey told the jury this was a lie the accused had concocted.

The prosecutor, a former London barrister, said a pathologist would give evidence later in the trial about how Millane died from sustained pressure to the neck.

Her body also showed bruising to her chest and upper arms, said McCoubrey.

However, many of the events leading up to Millane's disappearance and death had been captured by CCTV.

The cameras showed her and the accused enjoying themselves at bars and eateries near SkyCity, and kissing before entering the accused's apartment.

Grace Millane murder trial: CCTV shows alleged killer going through Millane's handbag. Video / Chris Tarpey

"But of course it's what happened inside the room that counts," McCoubrey said.

Lawyer Ian Brookie, who is leading the defence team, told the jury Millane died not from a murder but from "a perfectly ordinary, casual sexual encounter between a young couple".
More specifically "an act designed to enhance their sexual pleasure that went wrong".

Brookie said the events which led to Millane's death came with her "knowledge, encouragement and only with the goal of sexual pleasure".

"The defence is not doing this in any way to suggest that Ms Millane is to blame, she is not to blame," the lawyer said. While his client's actions may have caused Millane's death, Brookie said, he was also not to blame, "although he may blame himself".

"Put simply this was an accident, it was not murder."

But McCoubrey said the Crown would also rely on evidence about the accused's actions after Millane died.

He claimed several internet searches were made by the accused after her death in the early hours of December 2. These included searches for the Waitakere Ranges and for "hottest fire" at 1.35am.

"It's plain that Ms Millane is dead at this point," McCoubrey said.

"He is trying to find a place to hide her body ... he is trying to find a means of disposing of her body.

"There can be no reason for making those searches if Ms Millane was alive, unless there was a plan to kill her."

Grace Millane murder trial: Forensic evidence revealed. Video / Chris Tarpey

The accused also searched for pornography and took several intimate photos of Millane's body, McCoubrey said.

Later, the court heard, the accused bought several cleaning products, including hiring a Rug Doctor machine, and a suitcase which Millane's body was contorted to fit inside.

However, McCoubrey said, the accused went on another Tinder date while Millane's body was still in the apartment.

The court heard that the accused recalled to his date a story of a man who was imprisoned for manslaughter after he was having "kinky or rough sex but that it all went wrong".

McCoubrey said the alleged killer may have been "testing out a version of events that he may later have to rely on". The woman will give evidence later in the trial.

After hiring a rental car, the accused then transported Millane's body to Scenic Drive and buried the suitcase in a shallow grave in the Waitakere Ranges, the court heard.

However, Brookie said what his client did after Millane died may have been motivated by fear that he would not be believed.

"It's just not as simple as what the Crown is saying to you," he said.

Ian Brookie, lawyer for the man accused of Grace Millane's murder. Photo / Michael Craig
Ian Brookie, lawyer for the man accused of Grace Millane's murder. Photo / Michael Craig

"Is there really only one explanation for what is happening or is there another way of looking at it?"

'Something seemed out of place'

From the moment Grace Millane began messaging her best friend about a mystery man she was on a date with, "something seemed out of place," the court heard on Thursday.

"I'm on a date with a guy who is a manager of an oil company," Millane messaged her best friend Ameena Ashcroft on Facebook. In a statement read to the court yesterday, however, Ashcroft recalled feeling "a bit concerned" and that "something seemed out of place".

In a series of further messages to Ashcroft, Millane said: "Cocktails all round" and "he was like 'it's [my] birthday tomorrow, we are getting smashed'."

Ashcroft thought the messages were odd and that the man Millane was on a date with was doing "a weird thing ... with someone you don't really know".

"I click with him so well," the British backpacker said in a message about the man she met on December 1 last year. "I will let you know what happens tomorrow."

Tomorrow's message never came.

On Thursday the court was shown CCTV footage of Millane and the accused at several bars and restaurants in central Auckland on the night she died.

After drinking at Andy's Burger Bar at SkyCity and the Mexican Cafe on Victoria St West, the pair made their way to the Bluestone Room — a pub just metres from the CityLife apartment where the accused lived and Millane died.

Brian Dickey, Crown prosecutor. Photo / Michael Craig
Brian Dickey, Crown prosecutor. Photo / Michael Craig

By 9.10pm the pair appeared to be comfortable in each other's company and they kissed several times.

When Millane then leaves the table at 9.20pm — possibly to use the bathroom — the accused can be seen rummaging through her handbag.

At 9.40pm the pair leave the pub and make the short walk to the CityLife hotel. The accused has his arm around Millane's shoulders and the pair enter the hotel lift, destined for the third floor.

It is the last image police have recovered of Millane alive.

Detective Samuel Luker, who was responsible for investigating the accused's apartment on December 7 after Millane was declared missing, recalled what he found in the room — a black and green phone belonging to the accused.

An analysis of the device revealed several Google searches and photos taken of a naked woman from 1.29am on December 2. The web history showed an initial search for Waitakere Ranges, then at 1.31am a search for "hottest fire" was made, the court heard.

Several pornography sites were also accessed.

Grace Millane's parents David and Gillian outside the High Court at Auckland accompanied by Detective Inspector Scott Beard, at rear. Photo / Peter Meecham
Grace Millane's parents David and Gillian outside the High Court at Auckland accompanied by Detective Inspector Scott Beard, at rear. Photo / Peter Meecham

It was at this moment during the evidence that Millane's mum, Gillian, left the courtroom in tears.

DNA detectives

Spattered blood was discovered in the CityLife hotel apartment, the court heard on Friday.
It was found on and under the carpet and in small drops on a small white fridge.

Sensitive luminol tests also revealed what appeared to be bloody footprints near the bed.
The blood, Crown experts told the High Court at Auckland on Friday, was thousands of millions of times more likely to have come from Millane than anyone else.

Dianne Crenfeldt, an expert forensic scientist from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research, told the court about her analysis of the "probable blood staining" in the apartment.

One area was 70cm in diameter and also had some "circular smearing within it". A smaller area of possible blood staining was found near the wardrobe and was 30cm in diameter.
This smaller circle, Crenfeldt said, could have come from the base of a circular object such as a bucket.

No buckets, however, were found in the apartment during the police search.

The underside of the carpet and the concrete floor also showed "probable blood staining".
Crenfeldt told the jury there was "strong support" for the proposition that a clean-up of blood had occurred in the apartment.

Evidence of a possible clean-up, she said, included circular marks, small drips of blood, footprints and smears.

However, she was unable to say when such a clean-up may have occurred or how much blood there originally was. What Crenfeldt did say was it appeared "somebody with blood on their feet moved around the room".

Crenfeldt said her investigation also found what she described as four visible blood spots on the fridge.

While she couldn't date the spots, Crenfeldt said they looked to have been deposited during the same event.

She told the court it was likely caused by a "cast-off event". "Some object with blood on it moving through the air and leaving this line of small blood spots," she said. Crenfeldt speculated that this could have been a person's "hand moving through the air and blood flying off it".

During cross-examination, the accused's lawyer, Ian Brookie, said his client had told police he "encountered a small amount of blood on the floor and with the use of various cleaning products he went about trying to clean it up".

Turlough Thomas-Stone, an ESR forensic scientist, appeared to confirm the presence of Millane's blood in the apartment.

He told the court DNA tests were conducted on probable blood stains found on the carpet, fridge and lining of a suitcase.

He said the blood spots on the fridge were "500,000 million times more likely to have originated from Miss Millane than another woman" with the same DNA profile.

This, he said, was "extremely strong scientific support" that the DNA belonged to Millane.
A mixed DNA profile was also obtained from the carpet underlay. It showed two people — a male and female.

Thomas-Stone said the major profile component of the DNA found corresponded with that of Millane, and was 300,000 million times more likely to be her DNA and an unknown person than two random people in the general New Zealand population.

DNA found on the bag was 200,000 million times more likely to have come from Millane, he told the court. The evidence of another ESR forensic scientist, Timothy Power, was undisputed and read by McCoubrey.

Power said a sample taken from a spot of blood on a bottle found in the apartment was comparable to Millane's DNA profile.

Statistically, he said, the likelihood it was Millane's was 600,000 million times greater than other people in the general population.

The Crown will continue giving evidence on Monday morning. The trial is scheduled for five weeks but would likely finish sooner, Justice Simon Moore told the jury. It is likely to wrap up one year since Grace died.