The jury in the Grace Millane murder trial are sitting through heartbreaking video footage of her last hours alive on a Tinder date with the man accused of strangling her to death during sex.
With her parents watching from the public gallery, backpacker Grace, from Wickford in Essex, was shown taking a picture of a Christmas tree in New Zealand which she sent them while she waited to meet the alleged killer for the first time.
It was the university graduate’s last contact with her family, but today, property developer David Millane and his wife Gill are watching 30 minutes of footage discovered by police from a chain off CCTV cameras covering central Auckland.
Grace Millane, 22, vanished during the early hours of her 22nd birthday while on a round-the-world trip in New Zealand. Her body was later found inside a suitcase, buried in the woods
Today’s footage began at 5.11pm on December 11, the accused, wearing a pale shirt and jeans, had bought four bottles of Heineken at the Bluestone Room (pictured)
In the CCTV footage shown to jurors the defendant walked into view and open his arms for a hug
The defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons and Miss Millane then embrace
The defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, flanked by corrections officers during the opening of the trial on Wednesday
The film covered almost their entire date, from meeting outside the Sky City casino, through drinking at a succession of bars to entering the CityLife hotel where the defendant, who cannot be named, was living.
A final scene, at 9.41pm, shows the couple exiting the hotel lift and heading to the alleged killer’s apartment.
It was on December 1 last year, the eve of her 22nd birthday, the Grace and the 27-year-old man arranged to meet after connecting through Tinder the previous day.
Today, Detective Adam Bicknell told the jury he had been in charge of tracing Grace and her alleged killer’s movements through the city as part of Operation Gourami, the code name for the police investigation into her disappearance.
His team had looked at hundreds of hours of film captured over six days, said Detective Bicknell.
The parents of Grace Millane, David and Gillian Millane, arrived at the Auckland High Court on Wednesday
Miss Millane’s body was found in a wooded area near Auckland a week after she was last seen at a hotel in Auckland city centre
The jury of seven women and five men, and the defendant in the dock, watched transfixed and he and Grace were seen ordering drinks and finding a table
Grace Millane and the defendant can be seen looking at the menu and then ordering drinks
Miss Millane and the 27-year-old then leave the bar area and find a seat in the bar
Today’s footage began at 5.11pm on December 11, with the defendant entering the Bluestone Room and half an hour later, Grace, in a black dress, leaving the Base backpackers’ hostel where she was staying and walking through rain-soaked streets towards Sky City.
The accused, wearing a pale shirt and jeans, had bought four bottles of Heineken at the Bluestone Room, said the detective.
Outside SkyCity, Miss Millane was shown arriving in front of the casino’s 20 foot tall Christmas tree, where she stood waiting at 5.45pm. ‘I think we could see Miss Millane using her phone at the time,’ said Detective Bicknell, asked about the photograph she had sent her parents 45 minutes later.
Within minutes, the defendant walked into view, approaching Grace and giving her a hug, before the two of them walk into the casino and find Andy’s Burger Bar.
The jury of seven women and five men, and the defendant in the dock, watched transfixed and he and Grace were seen ordering drinks and finding a table.
Defence lawyer Ian Brookie during his opening statement in the Grace Millane murder trial on Wednesday
At 7.12pm, the couple left the burger bar and walked through the casino atrium and down the escalator walking out onto the street and past the Christmas tree
With Miss Millane seemingly happily chatting to her date, they cross the road into the Mexican cafe where they spend the next hour until the defendant came pay the bill with her standing beside him
Grace Millane is the defendant walk into a Mexican cafe and proceed to order drinks
After they sat down Grace Millane and the defendant shared two jugs of margheritas and one of sangria
The defendant came pay the bill with the 22-year-old backer standing beside him
The family of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane (far right). From left to right: Father David Millan, brother Michael Millane, mother Gillian Millane, brother Declan Millane and Grace
At 7.12pm, the couple left the burger bar and walked through the casino atrium and down the escalator walking out onto the street and past the Christmas tree.
With Miss Millane seemingly happily chatting to her date, they cross the road into the Mexican cafe where they spend the next hour until the defendant came pay the bill with her standing beside him.
They had shared two jugs of margheritas and one of sangria.
At 8.27pm, said Detective Bicknell, the pair were filmed in the distance crossing Albert Street and moving ever closer to the alleged killer’s home.
Beforehand, however, they headed into the Bluestone Room where the accused had earlier been drinking beer alone. With drinks in hand, and the defendant swigging from a bottle, they found a small table where they spent another hour.
The accused smiles and reaches his hand behind Grace;s head as he leans in to kiss her for the first time. Three hours after their first meeting they are shown kissing repeatedly.
Crown Prosecutor Robin McCoubrey during his opening statement in court on Wednesday
Just before 9pm, the accused kisses Grace again as he walks out of shot, leaving her to check her phone at the table.
Between checking her phone the doomed tourist time and again leans back to try and spot her date returning, and greets him with a smile when he does.
He then seems to drink from a shot glass, following it with a slice of lemon or lime and then resuming sipping from a bottle. By 9.20pm, Grace disappears from view and the accused checks his phone as the Saturday night crowd mills around him.
At 9.37pm, the couple are cuddling at the table and smooching before leaving back into the night.
Receipts showed they had drunk Heineken, cider and two tequila shots.
At 9.40, the couple hug as they enter the CityLife lobby and head for the lifts.
Getting into the lift, they head for his apartment on the third floor and leave towards room 308, where Grace would meet her end during the night.