New Zealander found guilty of British tourist's 'Tinder murder'

(iStock)
(iStock)

A New Zealand man was found guilty Friday of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane in Auckland last year after a jury rejected his defence that she was accidentally choked in a sex game gone wrong.

Millane disappeared on the eve of her 22nd birthday last December, a few days after arriving in Auckland while on a year-long around-the-world holiday after graduating from university.

The 27-year-old accused, whose identity is suppressed under a court ruling, had pleaded not guilty to her murder, but a jury convicted him after a three-week trial.

The court heard Millane and the killer met on the evening of her death after matching on the Tinder dating app, then went back to his city-centre apartment.

The defendant did not dispute the fact that Millane died in his home and that he disposed of her body in rugged bushland outside Auckland, where it was found a week later.

But his defence team claimed Millane died after encouraging him to choke her during consensual sex, then he disposed of the body and cleaned up the death scene because he was in a panic.

Prosecutors labelled the story a "labyrinth of lies", saying after Millane's death he took pictures of her, searched online for sites to dispose of the corpse, watched pornography, and arranged another Tinder date for the following night.

Prosecutor Brian Dickey said the man was seeking "total domination" over his victim.

A jury took about five hours to find him guilty and he is due to be sentenced on February 21, when the judge is likely to lift his identity suppression.

He faces minimum a 10-year non-parole period in prison, although the judge can order longer terms - including life without any chance of release.

Millane's parents were in the public gallery throughout the trial, and wept when the guilty verdict was read out.

"It will not reduce the pain and suffering we've had to endure," father David told reporters outside the court, paying tribute to "a beautiful, talented, loving daughter".

"Grace was taken away from us in the most brutal fashion a year ago and our lives and family have been ripped apart, this will be with us for the rest of our lives."

The killing shocked New Zealand - which is usually regarded as a safe place to travel - prompting nationwide vigils and a heartfelt apology to Millane's family by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When a Covid-19 vaccine for under 16's becomes available, will you be taking your children to get it?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, immediately!
38% - 2934 votes
I'll wait to see how others respond
26% - 2033 votes
No, I don't think they need it
36% - 2852 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
14.95
(+0.49)
ZAR/GBP
20.83
(+0.85)
ZAR/EUR
18.02
(+0.85)
ZAR/AUD
11.64
(+0.16)
ZAR/JPY
0.14
(+0.80)
Gold
1723.98
(-0.83)
Silver
26.53
(-0.83)
Platinum
1184.50
(-0.92)
Brent Crude
64.90
(0.00)
Palladium
2359.00
(+0.75)
All Share
67536.96
(+2.12)
Top 40
62107.04
(+2.23)
Financial 15
12456.31
(+2.10)
Industrial 25
88082.08
(+2.25)
Resource 10
68969.71
(+2.24)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo