A British backpacker was strangled during rough sex with her Tinder date who then put her body in a suitcase before meeting another woman, a court has heard.
Grace Millane, 22, was on a round-the-world trip when she arrived in New Zealand from Peru last November and went on a date with the man now accused of her murder.
The Crown alleges the 27-year-old defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, strangled Ms. Millane, from Wickford, Essex, during sexual intercourse at his apartment in Auckland.
However the defense claims the death, on either 1 December or 2 December, 2018 – the date of Ms Millane’s 22nd birthday – was accidental.
Opening the case at Auckland’s High Court on Wednesday, Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey said Ms Millane and the defendant met on the Tinder dating app and went to a number of bars in Auckland city centre.
He said: “They were plainly comfortable in one another’s company that evening,” referring to security footage that showed them together.
“From the footage, you’ll see them kissing. Both parties probably anticipated sexual activity,” he added.
Mr McCoubrey said the defendant lied to police about what occurred when he was first interviewed, telling them he had simply met Ms Millane “for a drink and then parted company”.
But he later told them they had engaged in rough sexual intercourse involving biting and hitting, Mr McCoubrey said.
Afterwards, the defendant allegedly told police he fell asleep in the shower, then woke up and went back to bed.
“’I woke up the next day and saw that she was lying on the floor. I saw that she had blood coming from her nose’,” Mr McCoubrey quoted the defendant as saying.
Mr McCoubrey said Ms Millane was found to have “other bruises that were consistent with restraint” on her “upper chest area and upper inner arms”.
“It is the Crown’s case that Ms Millane was strangled by [the defendant],” he added.
The prosecutor said that in the hours after Ms Millane died, the defendant engaged in a number of internet searches, including for the Waitakere Ranges, where her body was found, and for “the hottest fire”.
He also allegedly looked at pornography online multiple times and broke off his internet search to take seven intimate photos of Ms Millane’s body.
The defendant then resumed searching pornographic websites, before searching for “large bags near me” and “rigor mortis”.
“He wasn’t distressed or concerned by her death,” Mr McCoubrey claimed.
Security footage showed the accused bought a suitcase and later used a trolley to take it from his apartment to a hire car.
The prosecutor added that the defendant “doesn’t seem concerned by the dead body in his apartment” as he travelled to nearby Ponsonby Road and went “on another date” later on 2 December.
Defense barrister Ian Brookie said Ms Millane “died as a result of what they consensually engaged in together”.
The defendant wiped tears from his face as Mr Brookie added: “While his actions may have caused her death, he is not to blame. This death was an accident.”
Ms Millane’s parents David and Gillian were present in court for the start of the trial, which continues and is due to last five weeks.