Grace Millane trial jury retires to consider verdict

Grace Millane trial jury retires to consider verdict


Grace MillaneImage copyright
Lucie Blackman Trust

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University of Lincoln graduate Grace Millane was on a round-the-world trip at the time of her death

The jury in the trial of a man accused of a British backpacker’s murder must “set aside sympathy” for her family, a judge has said.

Grace Millane’s body was found in woodland near Auckland, New Zealand.

Lawyers for the defendant, who is accused of strangling her, argue she died accidentally during “rough” sex.

As jurors retired to consider their verdict, Justice Simon Moore also told them to disregard any distaste they may feel for the defendant’s lifestyle.

The 27-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of killing Ms Millane, from Wickford, Essex, after a Tinder date.

Auckland High Court has heard the pair drank cocktails for several hours before returning to his hotel room in the city centre.

The defence says Ms Millane died when consensual choking – or “breathplay” – went wrong.

Justice Moore outlined both sides of the case before jurors began their deliberations.

Prosecutors, he said, relied upon expert medical evidence and the account of a female witness who had claimed the defendant smothered her during sex.

He said the court had heard from pathologists who said death from strangling required consistent, prolonged pressure to the neck.

This was not in line with “loving, consensual breathplay”, the judge said.

He told jurors the defence had argued that post-mortem examinations found no injuries to suggest Ms Millane had struggled.

The defence team also told the court the defendant may not have noticed signs of strangulation in his drunken state, the judge said.

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Media captionGrace Millane’s last movements were captured on CCTV

Ms Millane’s body was found in a suitcase in a bushland area a week after her death on 1 December last year, the night before her 22nd birthday.

The defence has argued the defendant, who went on another Tinder date while Ms Millane’s body remained in his room, “freaked out” after realising she had died.

During the trial, the court heard he had taken “intimate” pictures of Ms Millane’s dead body after searching the internet for information about the Waitākere Ranges, where her remains were found.

The defence has argued she was alive when the pictures were taken and the Google searches were “random”, Justice Moore said.

If the jury does not believe the defendant intended to kill Ms Millane, the judge said, it may instead find him guilty of manslaughter.

The jurors might consider acquitting him of murder if they thought he had honestly believed Ms Millane had consented to him applying the amount of pressure which caused her death, Justice Moore said.

“Consent only comes into your consideration if you have rejected murder,” he said.

Urging jurors to focus only on the evidence, the judge said: “It is natural to feel for the family of Grace Millane on their loss and for her on what should have been an exciting and happy adventure.”

He added: “What you must not do is say to yourself: ‘because I don’t like [the defendant’s] lifestyle he must be guilty’.”



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