Significant bruising on victim’s body typical of restraint – forensic pathologist
UK backpacker Grace Millane died from pressure to neck, Dr Simon Stables testified in Auckland court Tuesday
Dr Stables said it would typically take a person four to five minutes to die from the injuries Millane suffered
Video of police interview reveals the defendant initially claimed he said goodbye to Millane at Auckland city center and went off to drink alone that night
Millane’s 27-year-old Tinder date, has since recanted, admitting he was present when she died
Defense argue the 22-year-old British woman’s death was an accident, during a consensual sex act
Prosecution insist the yet unnamed defendant committed murder.
Expert witness in court described injuries and likely cause, in the death of Grace Millane who was killed by a Tinder date in New Zealand, in December 2018
An Auckland court heard that British backpacker Grace Millane died from prolonged pressure to the neck, which took place during sex. The forensic pathologist who examined her body detailed his findings for the jury in Auckland, as it emerged the suspect initially told police he had parted ways with the British backpacker at 8pm before staying out drinking alone.
Dr Simon Stables told the Auckland high court that the injuries Millane sustained were extremely uncommon worldwide. “From my point of view it is incredibly rare, I have never heard of another case … in New Zealand.”
Dr. Stables was giving evidence in the trial of a 27-year old New Zealand man accused of murdering the 21-year-old British backpacker in Auckland in December 2018 while she was on a trip around the world. The accused, whose name is suppressed, while admitting Millane died while engaged in ‘consensual sex act’ has pled not guilty.
Stables told the court that he first examined Millane’s body on 9 December inside the suitcase where she was found buried in the Waitakere Ranges on the outskirts of the city.
He found more than a dozen bruises on her body, with nine of them occurring “probably around the time of death” to her upper arms, left clavicle and collarbone, and to the front and back of her left shoulder, Stables testified. Related Articles:
Dr Simon Stables gives evidence at the Auckland high court, describing the injuries Grace Millane suffered leading to her death
The bruises on her upper arms and left shoulder were typical of “restraint”, Stables said. The bruises ranged from 1cm to 5cm in diameter.
In response to defense cross whether the bruising could have been the result of “physical sex”, or “love bites”. Stables said the the bruises were too big to be love bites, but could have resulted from “physical sex”.
Defense attorney Ian Brookie, argued that Millane’s was accidentally, while engaging in a consensual sex act.
The prosecution insists the victim was murdered: “The pattern is consistent with some level of restraint that has gone on,” Stables said, describing the bruises as typical of other restraint injuries he has seen, whether or not they were consensual.
The expert witness said he could conclusively state that Millane died from manual pressure applied to her neck “for long enough and with enough force for that bruising to occur”.
Stating that it would typically take a person four to five minutes to die from the injuries Millane suffered, Stables observed that there was “extensive evidence” of bruising on the left side of Millane’s neck, in what he described as a “significant injury”.
“This bruising wouldn’t occur with gentle pressure on the neck … it takes quite a bit of effort,” Stable said.
The pathologist said he had dealt with cases of autoerotic asphyxiation, but none involving a partner engaging in a consensual sex game.
Millane’s body was discovered on 9 December inside the suitcase where she was found buried in the Waitakere Ranges on the outskirts of the city of Auckland, NZ
The court also heard that the defendant, in his first interview with police on 6 December, claimed he last saw Millane at about 8pm on the night of 1 December, parting ways in the city center after their date at Andy’s Burger Bar.
He claimed he then went on for drinks alone at a bar he could not recall, drinking alone till around 11pm.
He said he had invited Millane for a drink at SkyCity that evening, choosing a public setting because he was afraid of being “catfished” by Millane.
“If she wasn’t who she said she was, at least in my mind I would feel safe” the suspect is heard stating at the interview.
Auckland police released video of their interview with man who killed Grace Millane. The male suspect has not been named
When asked about his unusual route to the Auckland harbor side after meeting Millane, the 27-year-old man said it was for safety. He said avoiding the back streets made him feel better. Asked how the evening had panned out for him with Millane, he replied: “Pretty good”.
When the defense suggested that alcohol could have been a contributing factor in Millane’s death and that her respiratory system was compromised due to high levels of intoxication, which affects a person’s ability to recover a “from a low-oxygen” state.
Stables rebutted the hypothesis, saying if intoxication were enough to affect the respiratory system, that person would be unconscious: “They can’t have disordered breathing and still be conscious,” Stables said.
Alcohol was not a factor in Millane’s cause of death, the doctor said, and her medical records and autopsy stated she was in otherwise good health.
The court also heard how police were only alerted to the defendant’s existence after an officer who was monitoring Millane’s Facebook page noted a message from him under her profile picture that said: “Beautiful, very radiant”. The accused made the comment on 2 December.
Millane was seen on CCTV footage making a round of the bars on the night she was killed by her tinder date
The officer then gained access to Millane’s Facebook account and found details of a conversation she had with a friend discussing the Tinder date with the suspect on December 1.
A day later police had entered the man’s hotel room at the CityLife hotel to search for Millane.
Another prosecution witness, a young woman who went on a Tinder date with the defendant in November 2018 testified that he also began smothering her during oral sex. She said the man had told her that he had close friends who were members of New Zealand’s national rugby team, the All Blacks.
He also claimed that he was dying from cancer, and bragged about setting gang members on his father who claimed had raped him.
During their date the witness said, the defendant claimed he had just concluded a NZ$500,000 business deal, and even pretended to ring an All Blacks player.
“I didn’t believe any of it,” the woman added.