Warning: The Grace Millane murder trial is hearing evidence of a graphic and sexual nature. Reader discretion is advised. The trial is taking place in open court and media are required to accurately report the evidence as it is presented.

The man accused of Grace Millane's murder spent 5-10 minutes strangling her and then took "trophy" photos of her body, the Crown has told the jury during its closing argument.

Crown prosecutors allege that on December 1 last year - the eve of Millane's 22nd birthday - the accused strangled her to death in his CityLife hotel apartment in downtown Auckland.

The 27-year-old alleged killer, however, claims the British tourist died as a result of sexual misadventure.

Grace Millane murder trial: Prosecution closes its case. Video / Chris Tarpey

The Herald brings you the latest updates from the courtroom today.

The Crown completed its closing argument just afer 1pm and the court then took a lunch break.

'You can't consent to murder'


Auckland Crown Solicitor Brian Dickey turned his attention to the defence's BDSM sex evidence.

He said there appeared to be tens of millions of people worldwide who practised BDSM (Bondage Discipline Sadism and Masochism).

But, he told the jury, very rarely would someone die as a result.

"There's not mounting bodies in the streets because someone has touched their neck during a bit of rough sex," Dickey said.

While Millane "had a modest interest" BDSM, Dickey said "so what?"


"She didn't ask to be killed.

"You can't ask to be killed in this country, you can't consent to murder."

Dickey said it was "not safe sex play that killed Grace Millane, it's strangulation".

"You can't consent to your own murder ... She would have had to consent to someone holding her neck for five to 10 minutes until she passes out ... That's just silly."

The prosecutor said the defence was claiming "this was an accident, he should walk free".

"It's kind of Grace's fault as much as anyone's fault, but he didn't do anything wrong," Dickey claimed of the defence case.


Dickey continued his closing address by recalling some of the medical evidence about how long it takes for pressure on someone's neck to become fatal.

"That person will fall unconscious and you have to maintain pressure, sustain pressure, to the neck before they will die," he said.

"She must've gone limp some time before death ... That's a long time."

Dickey said the accused used his frame to restrain Millane and prevent her from escaping.

"He's got two knees, two arms, he's much bigger than her," he said.

"She can do what she wants, but she's a small woman.

"She's pinned with sustained pressure to her neck for quite a long time."


Dickey said the accused had "this interest in complete domination".

"It's a sexual interest, it's power and it's control," he said, adding it risks women's lives.

Dickey told the jury the accused had shown a propensity for this, highlighting the evidence of one of the accused's Tinder dates in November last year who said she was suffocated during sex.

"[She] fought for her life and survived, Grace Millane did not. Both were restrained," Dickey said.


Dickey said the accused "started to get a bit worried" about the time he had to hide Millane's body.

He searched "time in London" on December 2.

"This is her birthday, when is it her birthday over there?" Dickey speculated the accused was thinking.

When the accused buys a red shovel from a hardware store he also "buys a bunch of bolts".

"What for? Of no consequence," Dickey said.

The accused was, Dickey told the jury, diverting the interest of the salesman.

"He's covering his tracks, he's very much in control.

"He dug a hole, put her in it, covered it up ... He went and bought a second suitcase."

The accused then went about dumping the evidence, which included an early morning trip to Mission Bay.

Dickey said this could have been to discard Millane's cellphone, which police have never recovered.

On December 8 the accused "told the police he'd done these things".

"Said he'd come clean," Dickey said. "No he didn't."

Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey.
Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey.

Dickey told the jury the accused didn't tell police about the porn searches, the photos, or about his subsequent Tinder date.

"He didn't even tell police that he had caused Grace Millane's death," the prosecutor said.

"He talks around it, he talks a bit of what happened. But he never connects what he did to her death.

"If he told the truth he would be admitting to murder."

Dickey said the accused "lies, he lies, and lies, and lies".

"He's pretty good at it," Dickey adds.

Almost all of the accused's first interview with police on December 6 was "complete fiction", Dickey said.

"Elaborate, elaborate lies," he said. "He invented a whole group of Chinese tourists."

He also claimed he had a boozy night at a Queen St pub which didn't sell Corona or Heineken, Dickey said.

"This is elaborate stuff."

The accused interviewed by Detective Ewen Settle.
The accused interviewed by Detective Ewen Settle.

During a police interview when Detective Ewen Settle says Millane may have died from foul play the accused "obviously thinks 'hmmm, better put on a good show about this'," Dickey said.

"He's trying to get away with it altogether.

"He killed the British tourist and that's murder in his own mind."

Dickey said the accused created a "labyrinth of storytelling and lies".

"The interview of the 8th, the one you're told to believe.

"Can you? Do you? This thing is full of lies as well."


Dickey told the jury the response of a normal person after an accident is to call 111.

"You know, this is a young woman a long way from home, your response must be to dial emergency services?

"That's the response of the human being in those circumstances."

What the accused did, however, suggests he had a different view of Millane, Dickey said.

"Does it suggest he's killed her and he's okay with that?"

The first thing the accused did, Dickey said, was to Google "Waitakere Ranges" at 1.29am on December 2.

"He's trying to figure out a way of disposing of her body, that's his first response. Second response is then to look up "hottest fire" - again to figure out how to dispose her body.

"So that the world will never learn that he has killed this young woman."

About 10 minutes later the accused began viewing porn before taking several photos of Millane between 1.46am and 1.49am.

"If those photographs weren't taken after she died ... Then he planned to kill her," Dickey said.

"Either he planned to kill her and looked for a disposal site or she was dead. There's really no way out of the photographs for the defence."

Dickey said the photos were "powerful, powerful evidence" as to the previous intent of the accused.

After viewing some more pornography, the accused's phone goes silent from 2.24am to 6am.

Then, Dickey explains, the accused searches for car hire and "large bags near me".

At 7.05am he searches for rigor mortis.

"He told us he panicked," Dickey said.

"Where to this point is the evidence of panic?"

The accused was "cool, calm and controlled", Dickey said.

At 7.17am the accused searches for the nearest Warehouse, and at 7.51am he messages a Tinder match to check that their date is still on for later in the day.


Dickey has attacked the defence's narrative.

"This is not sex play, this is not restricted breath games," he said.

"This is holding a person's neck or throat for an extended period of time, feeling their struggle, as she must have struggled for her life, and you carry on.

"You do not have to plan murder, you do not have to intend murder."

The prosecutor told the jury that after Millane was dead the accused began taking photographs of her naked body.

"We know he has a sexual interest in feet, he took that as well," he said, pointing towards the photos recovered from the accused's phone.

"He took those two of her ... He took that one of her ... And he took those," he continued, flipping through the evidence booklet.

"And she was dead."

Dickey said the accused has "eroticised the death of British backpacker Grace Millane, which occurred under his handhold and on her birthday".

"He has a morbid sexual interest in a dead woman's [private parts].

"And he has memorialised it for himself ... The ultimate triumph for the defendant over Grace Millane. His trophy photographs."

Dickey said: "Lots of times we don't know why people do criminal acts ... Lots of times people don't tell the truth."


Auckland Crown Solicitor Brian Dickey has begun his closing address and says he does not have to prove the accused intended to kill Millane.

"That is wrong," he said. "That is one method, but it is not the only method."

Dickey told the jury that may be the conclusion they come to, but they also could convict him of murder if they found he displayed a reckless intent.

"That he knew what he was doing was causing harm and might cause death," Dickey explained.

"That he was aware of that risk and that he took it."

The prosecutor said the accused gripped Millane's throat for five to 10 minutes, strangling the life out of her.

"At some point in that period the victim would pass through to unconsciousness and you would have to carry on. And you would have to carry on to cause death ... suffocating her, strangling her, for a total of what would be approximately five to 10 minutes."

He said the accused must have felt Millane's "limp and lifeless" body but decided to carry on.

"If that's not reckless murder in this country ladies and gentleman, then someone will have to explain to me what is," Dickey said.

"On that alone you will have to convict him of murder."

10.09am: A memorandum of agreed facts relating to forensic pathologist Dr Fintan Garavan's evidence was read to the court this morning.

He clarified that it was his opinion a state of unconsciousness due to pressure on a person's neck may result between three to five minutes, while death may occur between five to 10 minutes.

"I did not mean five to 10 minutes to unconsciousness and then a further 10 minutes to death."

Defence: 'No motive' for murder

While the accused did not give evidence himself this week, his legal team, led by Ian Brookie, employed a variety of witnesses on his behalf.

These included a forensic pathologist and an expert in sexual culture. They also produced evidence and statements about Millane's sexual preferences, some of which was read to the court this afternoon.

Millane and the accused during their date.
Millane and the accused during their date.

Material extracted from Millane's laptop by a computer expert instructed by the defence showed three chats were recovered from the BDSM online app Whiplr, which Millane was a member of.

The messages, which totalled 412 in August and September 2017, were between Millane and two unidentified men.

Some of the messages appeared to propose a casual sexual encounter with the first man, the court heard.

Millane, who appeared new to the practice of BDSM at the time, also talked of role play and discussed her desire to be fully restrained and blindfolded.

A user of Whiplr who had connected with Millane earlier had his police statement read to the court.

He said the pair exchanged messages and photos before in another messaging platform Millane, using her full name, outlined her interest in BDSM and other forms of kinky sex.

Defence lawyer Ian Brookie.
Defence lawyer Ian Brookie.

Millane appeared to be "at an explorative stage and quite open to suggestions" but was "quite open to it and wanted to try it", he said.

"I felt like Grace was more naive and trusting in the BDSM area. The users could be any undesirable person online, and Grace had a naivety."

The court heard Millane last accessed Whiplr at 3.43am (GMT) on December 1, which is during the afternoon of that day in New Zealand time.

Grace Millane murder trial: Jury hears all the evidence as defence closes case with Whiplr messages
Grace Millane murder trial: Sexual culture expert testifies, evidence about Whiplr sex app
Grace Millane murder trial: Sexual preferences and accused's 'life through Tinder' canvassed
Grace Millane murder trial: The key people and what to expect

Grace Millane was in New Zealand as a backpacker during her OE.
Grace Millane was in New Zealand as a backpacker during her OE.

Richard Middleton, a private investigator hired by the accused's legal team, also gave evidence about the sex apps.

He said FetLife, which Millane was a member on, was "quite explicit".

FetLife has about eight million users worldwide, the court heard.

The retired detective inspector told the court he went to the United Kingdom in an attempt to ask Millane's friends to testify for the defence.

But he said witnesses outside New Zealand cannot be summonsed to court and, instead, those who knew Millane have had their statements read to the court during the trial.

Other such evidence was heard on Tuesday, when a former sexual partner of Millane had his statement read to the court.

He talked of their relationship, how she enjoyed choking during sex and their practice of BDSM.

A female confidant of Millane also had her statement read to the court and said Millane "enjoyed her partner putting his hands around her neck".

On Wednesday, a man who spent the night of November 30 last year with Millane - the day before she met the accused - told the court he had his hand "potentially on her neck" when they had sex.

The man, who has name suppression, said he met the "outgoing" Millane at the Base Backpackers where she was staying in Auckland and they talked of her future travels to Fiji.

The pair messaged each other on Facebook before deciding to meet and return to the man's apartment in downtown Auckland, he said.

During sex, he said, he may have placed a hand around Millane's neck but "can't remember 100 per cent".

The man, who came forward to police after Millane died, said this was a "common" practice with women he was intimate with.

Grace Millane murder trial: Sex expert on BDSM and 'breath play'. Video / Chris Tarpey

A British expert in sexual culture, Professor Clarissa Smith from the University of Sunderland, also testified for the defence via video link from England this morning.

Smith, whose studies have included taboo media and sexual ethics, said attitudes towards sex have drastically changed in the past three decades.

"It's not just reserved for maybe one's life partner or maybe marriage," she said.

Through her research, she told the court, she learned how women were interested in themes of domination in erotic stories.

People now talk about sex as entertainment, she said, and it is "an incredibly important part of youth cultures".

It was also now more common for people to "dabble in elements of kink", such as erotic asphyxiation, which the court has heard Millane practised.

She said some high-profile cases of celebrities engaging in erotic asphyxiation have increased its popularity.

BDSM, the professor said, was an umbrella term which includes bondage, domination and sadomasochism.

However, she said the "point is not to be humiliated" or dominated.

"It's about playing with the idea and feelings of humiliation," she said. "But you want the feeling of being under control."

She likened the feeling to that of being on a rollercoaster.

"Young people are, of course, more likely to be interested in experimenting and trying something new."

While safety should be of primary concern during erotic asphyxiation, she said, "in the heat of the moment that might not happen".

She added that when alcohol or drugs were involved "safety may not be someone's first priority".

Grace Millane murder trial: Accused admits to disposing of body. Video / Chris Tarpey

On Tuesday, the defence called its own expert forensic pathologist, Dr Fintan Garavan, via video link in Miami in the United States.

Garavan said the "major participant" in Millane's death was pressure on her neck - corresponding with the finding of the Crown's expert pathologist Dr Simon Stables.

He, however, disagreed with Stables' position that alcohol would not have been a factor.

Millane's alcohol consumption may have led to a biological "safety valve" not kicking in, Garavan said.

The expert in the effect of drugs and alcohol on the body added it could "very well have been a secondary factor in the cause of death".

Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey.
Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey.

on the night she died, including shots of tequila and cocktails.

The doctor said the narrative of rough sex from the accused was also "an adequate" explanation as to how Millane may have died, given the bruising found around her neck.

When Ron Mansfield gave the defence's opening address yesterday, he told the jury no one would believe the accused's story of a fatal sexual encounter.

"But don't prove him right," he urged the jury.

What the accused did after Millane died, which included disposing of her body, cleaning the apartment, dumping evidence and lying to police, was the result of fear, Mansfield said.

"People do things when they're stressed, when they're panicked.

"No matter what he did once he realised she had died, unless he called the authorities, that was not going to look good or stand him in good stead ... Because who was going to believe him that death occurred during a consensual sexual activity?"

Millane, he continued, was a "loving, bright, engaging, intelligent and well-liked woman".

"That is her reputation and that should be her reputation and memory at the start of this trial and at the conclusion of it."