Grace Millane trial: Murder jury shown backpacker's final hours on Tinder date 'with man who strangled her'

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

The jury in the Grace Millane murder trial have been shown footage of the British backpacker out on a Tinder date with the man accused of strangling her to death.

Security cameras recorded Ms Millane, who was in New Zealand as part of a round-the-world trip, visit a number of bars in the city centre with the accused 27-year-old where they drank alcohol.

They kissed repeatedly at the Bluestone Room before walking arm-in-arm a short distance into the lobby of the CityHigh hotel where the defendant was staying.

Ms Millane was shown to follow the defendant out of the lift at 9.41pm.

It was the last time she was seen alive.

Backpacker Grace ended her Tinder date arm in arm with the accused. (PA)
Grace, 22, and the murder accused, who cannot be identified, are seen on CCTV enjoying drinks in a bar on the night she was last seen. (PA)

On the second day of the trial, the court heard how Ms Millane messaged her friend to say "I click with him so well" about the man she was on a date with who allegedly strangled her hours later.

Ms Millane's friend, Ameena Ashcroft, said in a letter read to Auckland High Court that she "thought something was out of place" when the young woman sent a series of messages on December 1, 2018, in which Ms Millane admitted to wanting to "get smashed" with the man she met on Tinder.

The Crown has alleged that the man, who cannot be named due to a suppression order, murdered the young woman from Wickford, Essex, and shoved her body inside a suitcase before burying her in a forested area outside Auckland.

Ms Millane visited a number of bars in the city centre with the accused 27-year-old where they drank alcohol (PA)
Footage of Grace Millane meeting up with the man accused of murdering her as been show to jurors (PA)

The defence claims the death, on either December 1 or December 2, 2018, the date of Ms Millane's 22nd birthday, was accidental.

Gillian Millane, the mother of the deceased woman, left the court in tears as detective Samuel Luker described a series of photographs found on the defendant's phone.

Those photographs taken in the early hours of December 2, 2018 showed intimate photos of a woman's body, the detective said, which the Crown has alleged were taken of Ms Millane after her death.

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The defendant, wearing a navy blue suit and black shirt, did not react as Gillian Millane walked out of the courtroom.

David Millane looked directly at the defendant as the detective confirmed pornography was looked at on the man's phone after his daughter's death.

But he cast his eyes down when he heard the defendant had searched online for "rigor mortis”.

The British backpacker reportedly messaged her friend to say 'I click with him so well' about the man she was on a date with (PA)

The data showed the man had used Google to browse websites for large duffel bags, suitcases and car hire.

The defendant's phone was also used to search for "flesh-eating birds" and "are there vultures in New Zealand?" days later, on December 5, 2018.

Records showed the defendant had searched online for "the hottest fire", "large bags near me" and "Waitakere Ranges" - where Ms Millane's body was later found contorted inside a suitcase on December 9, 2018 - before going on another Tinder date later that day.

Her parents had wept in court as they heard that earrings and a small metal tag inscribed with the word "freedom" were also found inside the suitcase.

The trial continues and is expected to last five weeks.