Images of the last time British backpacker Grace Millane was seen alive have been shown at her murder trial in New Zealand.
On Thursday, Auckland High Court – where Millane’s parents were present – was shown CCTV footage of of the 22-year-old out on a date with the man who is alleged to have murdered her.
The footage showed Millane, who was on a round-the-world trip, visit a number of bars in the city centre with the accused 27-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
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, the court heard.
Millane was shown to follow the defendant out of the lift at 9.41pm. It was the last time she was seen alive.
During the date, Millane messaged her friend Ameena Ashcroft to say “I click with him so well” about the man she had met on Tinder, the jury was told.
But in a letter read to the court, Ashcroft said she “thought something was out of place” when her friend sent a series of messages on December 1, including one in which Millane said she wanted to “get smashed” with the man.
The Crown has alleged that the man murdered the young woman from Essex, and shoved her body inside a suitcase before burying her in a forested area outside Auckland.
The defence claims the death, on either December 1 or December 2, 2018 – the date of Millane’s 22nd birthday – was accidental.
Later Gillian Millane, her mother, 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 showed intimate photos of a woman’s body, the detective said, which the Crown has alleged were taken of Millane after her death.
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 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.
Records showed the defendant had searched online for “the hottest fire”, “large bags near me” and “Waitakere Ranges” – where Millane’s body was later found contorted inside a suitcase on December 9 – 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.