Hand-in-hand with the Tinder date accused of strangling her to death in his flat and photographing her naked corpse before stuffing her in a suitcase, this is the final chilling CCTV of British backpacker Grace Millane before she died.
The jury in Miss Millane’s murder trial has been shown video footage of her last hours alive with the 27-year-old man, who cannot be named, who insists she died during rough sex after a drunken night out.
Poignant footage from December 1 last year shows Grace taking a picture of a Christmas tree in New Zealand which she sent to her parents at home in Wickford, Essex, as she waited to meet the alleged killer for the first time – hugging him as he arrived.
After a night of drinking on the eve of her 22nd birthday, cameras captured them arriving at Auckland’s CityLife hotel after being invited up by her alleged killer, who was living there.
Grace is then seen in the block’s lift with her alleged killer before heading for room 308 – the last time she was seen alive.
As well as being shown 30 minutes of CCTV footage, the jury was shown police forensic photos of the bedroom where she died, including the unmade bed and blood-splattered carpet strewn with dirty clothes.
Before her body was found contorted into a suitcase buried in the woods, the court heard police combed the hotel room for clues and took pictures. One image shown to the jury features the white substance Luminol, which police scientists use to show swathes of blood on the carpet – revealing the room’s carpet was soaked with it.
Her parents Gill and David watched from the public gallery but Mrs Millane walked out of the courtroom in tears as graphic details were given of evidence detectives had found on the accused’s mobile phone, including intimate pictures of her naked body.
A smiling Grace Millane enters the ApartHotel in Auckland where her alleged killer snuffed out her life for his own sexual thrill, the trial captivating New Zealand heard today
5,45pm: CCTV footage shown to jurors the defendant (whose face is obscured) walked into view and open his arms for a hug with Grace Millane as they met for the first time on December 1 in Auckland, New Zealand
6pm: The CCTV footage followed the couple through their date, including their first stop: A casino containing Andy’s Burger Bar
8.30pm: the pair (seen stood at right-hand end of the bar) were paying after spending an hour at the Mexican Cafe
8.45pm: Three hours after their first meeting Miss Millane and the defendant are shown kissing repeatedly in Auckland’s Bluestone Bar, where her alleged killer was drinking before the date
9.40pm: Just over an hour later Grace Millane and the defendant leave the lift at the hotel where he lived and head for room 308. The footage is the last time she was seen alive
Pictures of the bedroom where British backpacker Grace Millane was allegedly strangled to death during sex have been shown to a jury. The court heard officers used grey metal steps to stand on as they moved around the room to avoid disturbing evidence
This image shows a white substance on the floor, Luminol, which police scientists used to show traces of blood on the carpet, the jury was told
Officers investigating Miss Millaine’s disappearance used grey metal steps to stand on as they moved around the room to avoid contaminating the scene, the court heard.
‘Are there vultures in New Zealand?’ Chilling Google searches of Grace’s Tinder date after she died
Grace Millane’s alleged killer appears to have considered whether carrion birds could help dispose of the backbacker’s body, a court heard today.
The data showed the man had also used Google to browse websites for large duffel bags, suitcases and car hire after her death.
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.
The prosecution claims the searches show that he was considering how best to dispose of the body to avoid detection.
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 pictures tendered in court show clothes strewn over the ruffled bedsheets and a suitcase in the corner which is not the one the alleged killer used to dump her body.
Detective Samuel Luker conducted the examination of the defendant’s apartment in the hotel at 9.55pm on December 6 before Miss Millane’s body was found on December 9.
He told the court: ‘I was looking for Miss Millane, but the room was empty.’
Mr Luker said he did find an empty suitcase and two mobile phones – including one belonging to the defendant – and returned to the scene the following morning to continue his investigation.
Grace’s mother Gillian left the court in tears as Detective Luker described a series of photographs found on the defendant’s phone.
Those photographs showed intimate parts of a woman’s body, the detective said, which the Crown has alleged are of Ms Millane.
Detective Luker added that the phone’s records also showed pornographic websites were accessed around the same time. The defendant did not react as Gillian Millane walked out of the courtroom.
Shortly before 2am on the morning of Grace’s birthday, he was accessing hardcore pornography. Early the following morning he began searching Google for information on hire cars, cleaning equipment and large bags.
On December 5, the day the police began searching for her, the accused, who had buried her body in a shallow grave in dense woodland, searched for ‘flesh eating birds’ and ‘are there vultures in New Zealand?’
Detective Samuel Luker told the court that following the forensic search, the room was later blessed before being commercially cleaned.
The defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, flanked by corrections officers during the opening of the trial on Wednesday
Grace Millane, (left after graduation) 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. He parents David and Gillian Millane were again at the Auckland High Court today
At the trial on Thursday, Grace’s mother Gillian left the court in tears as Detective Samuel Luker described a series of photographs found on the defendant’s phone. Pictured: The bedroom where Miss Millane allegedly died
The images, tendered in court, show clothes strewn over the ruffled bedsheets and a suitcase (pictured) in the corner which is not the one the alleged killed used to dump her body
David Millane looked directly at the defendant as the detective confirmed pornography was looked at on the defendant’s phone.
But he cast his eyes down when he heard the defendant had searched online for ‘rigor mortis’.
The jury was told the data showed the alleged killer had used Google to browse websites for large duffel bags, suitcases and car hire.
The defendant’s phone also searched for ‘flesh-eating birds’ and ‘are there vultures in New Zealand?’ days later on December 5, 2018, the court heard.
The jury was told Ms Millane was messaging a female friend from university during her date.
A letter by her friend, Ameena Ashcroft, has been read to the jury and said Ms Millane referred to ‘getting smashed’ on the date and said the encounter was going ‘really good’.
‘Mate, he lives in a hotel’,’ Ms Millane messaged Ms Ashcroft.
‘You have to go to his apartment in the hotel, bet it’s like the top floor’, Ms Ashcroft replied.
‘He is coming to London next year,’Ms Millane wrote. She then sent what would allegedly be her final message: ‘I click with him so well.’
Earlier the jury were shown 30 minutes of video footage of Grace’s last hours alive on a Tinder date with the man accused of strangling her to death during sex.
The backpacker, from Wickford in Essex, was shown taking a picture of a Christmas tree in central Auckland which the court heard she sent them while she waited to meet the alleged killer for the first time.
Today’s footage aired in court 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)
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
The defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and Miss Millane then embrace near a Christmas tree
The two of them walk towards an escalator, having a conversation, then into the casino and find Andy’s Burger Bar
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, a court heard
The film covered almost their entire date, from meeting outside the Sky City casino, through drinking at a succession of bars to entering the hotel where the defendant, who cannot be named, was living.
The jury watched a final scene, at 9.41pm, which 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, when the court heard 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.
Today’s footage aired at trial began at 5.11pm on December 1, 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, the detective told the court.
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 as he and Grace were seen ordering drinks and finding a table.
At 7.12pm, the footage aired in court shows 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, the jury heard
Grace Millane and the defendant walk into a Mexican cafe and proceed to order drinks, the footage showed aired at trial said
After they sat down Grace Millane and the defendant shared two jugs of margheritas and one of sangria
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, the court heard.
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, the court heard.
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.
Before heading to the alleged killer’s home they head to the Bluestone Room, where the defendant had been on his own at the start of the evening
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 Miss Millane’s head as he leans in to kiss her
Three hours after their first meeting Miss Millane and the defendant are shown kissing repeatedly
The backpacker disappears from view and the accused checks his phone as the Saturday night crowd mills around him
With drinks in hand, and the defendant swigging from a bottle, they found a small table where they spent another hour.
Justice Simon Moore pictured during the Grace Millane trial at the Auckland High Court on Thursday
The accused smiles and reaches his hand behind Miss Millane’s head as he leans in to kiss her for the first time.
Three hours after their first meeting they are shown kissing repeatedly.
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 kissing 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.
It is the last time she is seen in the footage shown to the court.
Defence lawyer Ian Brookie speaks during the Grace Millane trial at the Auckland High Court on Thursday
The Crown has alleged that the defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, strangled Ms Millane during rough sexual intercourse.
The defence claims the death, on either December 1 or December 2 2018, the date of Ms Millane’s 22nd birthday, was accidental.
Phone records allegedly 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 – before going on another Tinder date later that day.
The trial continues.
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