Grace Millane killer ‘eroticised’ backpacker’s death, say prosecutors in trial’s closing statements

The trial of Grace Millane’s accused killer heard the closing statements of the Crown and the defence on Thursday, with Justice Simon Moore expected to sum up the case Friday morning before sending the jury out for deliberation. 

In closing, the prosecution said the accused, a 27-year-old New Zealand man who cannot be named, had "eroticised" Ms Millane’s death, taking photos of her body and watching a pornographic film after killing her.

Prosecutor Brian Dickey said “this case is about being strangled to death. You can’t consent to your own murder”.

He said the forensic pathologist who conducted an autopsy on the 21-year-old British woman testified it would have taken up to 10 minutes for her to die. 

He added it would have taken “sustained effort and strength”, with her showing signs of distress, then falling unconscious and going limp before dying.

“There is powerful evidence in this case that Grace was murdered… (the accused) must have known that they were hurting her, causing her harm, that might well cause her death,” he said.

He reminded that jury that Dr Clare Healy, an expert in sexual assaults, told the court that it would take "quite some effort and some time to kill a person by (mechanical asphyxiation)".

The defence argued the accused was panic-stricken and had done the wrong thing after Ms Millane died, but that her death was accidental.

While the defence conceded the accused searched “hottest fire” online after Ms Millane’s death, they suggested it could have meant anything.

Despite the results of a police search finding otherwise, the accused has not admitted to Google searches for rigor mortis and flesh-eating birds in New Zealand, watching pornography or taking photos of Ms Millane’s body after she died. He chose not to testify in the trial.

Defence counsel Ian Brookie said the accused was in a "high stress situation" after Ms Millane died and feared “he wouldn’t be believed” that she had died in a consensual sexual activity gone wrong.

Mr Dickey said the CCTV footage the next day did not show the actions of a man in a state of panic, that the accused was "calm and collected" in his actions in planning the disposal of her body, and showed no regard for her dignity as he forced her body into a suitcase and went on another date that same day.

“It speaks to someone who was entirely without regret,” Mr Dickey told the court.

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