By Veronica Schmidt for RNZ
A woman who went on a Tinder date with Grace Millane's murderer - and afterward predicted he would hurt someone - is speaking for the first time because she says the conversation needs to shift from Grace's past to her killer's.
The man, who has name suppression, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years this morning for killing British backpacker Millane after matching with her on Tinder and meeting her for a date in Auckland's CBD in December 2018.
The woman, who RNZ has agreed not to name, refused to take the man home with her following the date - which occurred in Auckland about a year before Millane's death - but he wouldn't accept her decision.
After drinking with the man at a bar she told him she was going to go home and headed for the carpark.
He followed her and asked, "Am I not getting a kiss from you, then?"
He then "forcibly" kissed her, she said.
The woman said when she repeated that she had to go, he "flipped".
"He was saying, 'why aren't you taking me home? I have every right to come back to your place. You need to be taking me home.'"
She said the stand-off turned into a "heated argument", in which she told him he wasn't listening to her, and that she did not want him to come home with her.
"Then he said, 'You're not f-ing listening to me! I've got every right to come back to your place, and you need to be taking me home with you.'"
The woman - who was not one of the man's dates to give evidence at the trial - said she was thankful the carpark was in full view of the bar.
• Grace Millane's killer sentenced in Auckland, keeps name suppression
• Grace Millane murder: Killer jailed for a minimum of 17 years
• Grace Millane's killer sentenced to minimum 17 years in prison
• Grace Millane murder: Backpacker's mum expected to confront killer at sentencing
"I can still vividly picture the day... I can see the intent in his eyes and how had I been a little bit more around the corner, out of view, it could have been a different story."
She said she had a strong personality and always stood up for herself, but she "really, really struggled to get him to go".
The woman was uncomfortable from the beginning of the date, when she arrived at the bar and thought the man looked familiar. She suspected he was a man her friend had previously dated and whom she had met once.
Alarm bells rang for the woman as she remembered the man had become controlling during his relationship with her friend, and he had told her friend elaborate stories that the woman suspected were fabricated.
One story was that both his parents had been killed in a car explosion of which he was the only survivor. A couple who was travelling in a car behind the family when it happened adopted him.
Her friend later confirmed it was the same man.
During the date, the man told her he was friends with international stars, such as Gwyneth Paltrow, as well as local personalities, including a radio personality.
After the date, the woman was so concerned about what he might do to other women that she contacted the radio personality to flag up his behaviour.
The woman said in her message that she feared he would kill someone.
"I just said, I'd hate to think what's going to happen to a young, vulnerable woman when he gets his hands on her... because he obviously didn't like being rejected."
But the radio personality replied she had never met the man.
Almost a year to the day later, the man was charged with Millane's murder.
The woman went to police and gave a statement.
She said she feels haunted by what she wrote in her message to the radio personality.
"To have it in writing... 'he's going to hurt someone'... and then a year - almost a year - later those words that are still in writing in the messages [to] actually haunt you."
She said she was speaking now as she wanted the public to know that the details of Millane's life that came out during the murder trial were irrelevant to the crime - it was the man's previous behaviour that should be under the spotlight.
"I personally just want to defend Grace," she said.
"It was only a matter of time before he actually did kill someone."