Warning: Contains graphic and sexual content.

The jury in the Grace Millane murder trial will continue watching the accused killer's police interview today, after yesterday learning the backpacker died from "pressure on the neck".

Crown prosecutors allege that on the night of December 1 last year - the eve of Millane's 22nd birthday - the accused, 27, strangled the young Brit to death in his central city apartment after the pair spent the night drinking.

He then stuffed Millane's body into a suitcase and dumped it in a shallow grave amongst some bush in Auckland's Waitākere Ranges.


While not under arrest at the time, the accused was interviewed by Detective Ewen Settle on December 6 as a person of interest.

Their conversation was recorded on video and played in part to the jury yesterday afternoon.

The court heard the accused, who is originally from Wellington and lived in Australia for several years, matched with Millane on the dating app Tinder on November 30 last year.

The next day they agreed to meet for a drink.

"We met outside [SkyCity] on the front doors, I gave her a hug, she gave me a hug," the accused told Settle.

"We decided that we were going up to Andy's Burger Bar."

Prosecutor Robin McCoubrey says Grace Millane was deliberately strangled to death by the accused. Photo / Michael Craig
Prosecutor Robin McCoubrey says Grace Millane was deliberately strangled to death by the accused. Photo / Michael Craig

The accused, however, said he wasn't sure Millane was going to be a "real" person and feared she may have been a catfish - a type of fake social media identity.

"If I meet at SkyCity ... If it is someone that it's not, I could just walk away," he said.


"On Tinder it's all about the way you look.

"If she wasn't who she said she was at least then in my mind I would be safe."

Settle later asked the accused a more pointed question: "How did the evening pan out?"

"Umm yeah, pretty good," the accused replied. "We drank a few cocktails and we were having good conversations."

It was at this moment the accused's story began to contradict CCTV footage of him and Millane from the night of December 1.

He said after leaving SkyCity they went their separate ways. Video footage, however, shows he and Millane went to two more establishments before the CityLife hotel where the accused lived.

"I go down Victoria St, straight down to the bottom, and hang a left and head towards the Viaduct," the accused said, explaining what he did after supposedly parting from Millane.

He told Settle he then spent a couple of hours at a sports bar on Queen St.

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

However, Settle calmly slid a piece of paper across the table in an interview room at the Auckland central police station.

It was an image from a CCTV camera.

It was of the accused with Millane.

"What time is this?" the detective asked.

The accused paused.

He questioned the photo before replying: "I would say 8.30pm-9pm?"

The jury will watch the rest of the video interview when the trial resumes this morning.

Before the interview, the accused had earlier told another detective he last saw Millane about 10pm on December 1.

The court also heard the accused left a comment underneath a new profile photo on Millane's Facebook page.

"Beautiful, very radiant," it read.

The comment was linked to a name associated with the accused and was made on December 1 at about 9.29pm, the court heard.

Grace Millane murder trial: Pathologist describes Millane's injuries. Video / Chris Tarpey

Earlier yesterday, the jury heard evidence from forensic pathologist Dr Simon Stables.

He has determined Millane died from "pressure on the neck" - an area of her body which displayed bruising.

For someone to die in this manner, he said, the brain needed to be starved of oxygen for at least four to five minutes.

This injury would normally be a result of pressure over a "sufficient period of time and with sufficient force", Stables said.

"It's not going to happen through a gentle touch of the neck," he explained.

Stables said he also noticed a bruise on Millane's front left shoulder, near the collarbone, and three small red bruises on the inside of her right upper arm, just above the elbow.

The expert Crown witness added he further found "fingertip bruising".

"If someone has grabbed on the arm, if there is sufficient force, the fingers may leave bruising," he explained.

Ian Brookie, counsel for the defendant, suggested the bruising on Grace Millane's body was a result of sexual misadventure. Photo / Michael Craig
Ian Brookie, counsel for the defendant, suggested the bruising on Grace Millane's body was a result of sexual misadventure. Photo / Michael Craig

Stables said Millane's bruising was "probably around the time of death" and the pattern was consistent with "some sort of restraint".

Dating the bruises, however, was notoriously difficult, he added.

Stables was later cross-examined by lead defence counsel Ian Brookie, who questioned if alcohol could inhibit the way a person "bounces back" from being in a low oxygen state.

The accused accepted, Brookie said, that Millane died from pressure to her neck. But it occurred in a moment of sexual misadventure rather than any intended harm.

Stables, however, said if a person's blood alcohol level was affecting a person's respiratory centre, they would be unconscious.

The pathologist also talked of a lack of literature and reported cases for erotic manual strangulation leading to death.

"If it happens, this is incredibly rare," he said.

"They are usually of auto-erotic asphyxia," he said, but added the person will usually have "some form of escape mechanism".

While Stables said it was impossible to tell, he agreed with Brookie when asked if Millane's bruises might have occurred during rough sex.