Grace Millane: Blood sample in murder accused's flat is likely to be hers, court told
8 November 2019, 05:12 | Updated: 8 November 2019, 09:02
Blood found in the apartment where British backpacker Grace Millane was killed was 500 million times more likely to belong to her than anyone else, a New Zealand court has heard.
The university graduate, from Wickford, Essex, had been on a date with a 27-year-old man she met in Auckland on 1 December 2018.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of strangling the backpacker until she bled from her nose.
The New Zealander later took intimate images of Ms Millane's dead body as it lay on the floor of the CityLife hotel where he was living, the court heard.
He is then accused of putting his victim's body in a suitcase before burying her in a forested area outside Auckland.
The defence claims Ms Millane's death, on either on 1 or 2 December last year, was accidental and occurred during rough sexual intercourse.
The backpacker would have celebrated her 22nd birthday on 2 December 2018.
Forensic experts told Auckland High Court on Friday that there was evidence Ms Millane's blood had been cleaned up, which the defendant told police he had done.
Scientific testing showed that blood found on the fridge in the man's apartment was 500,000 million times more likely to belong to Ms Millane than anyone else, the court heard.
DNA expert Turlough Thomas-Stone said "no male DNA was detected" in samples taken from the woman's fingernails and from the suitcase in which her body was found.
But he added that "damp, moisture, exposure to the elements" can make it harder to identify DNA samples taken from grave sites.
He added: "Given the time between the alleged event and the taking of these samples, that could be a potential explanation (for the absence of male DNA)."
Toxicologist Diana Kappatos said testing found no illicit or prescribed drugs in Ms Millane's body.
The backpacker was found to have 106mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in her body, which is double the legal limit for drivers in New Zealand.
But Ms Kappatos said that microbial action after death may have increased or decreased the concentration of alcohol in Ms Millane's body.
Ameena Ashcroft, Ms Millane's friend, said in a letter read to the court that she "thought something was out of place" when the backpacker sent a series of messages during the date in which she admitted to wanting to "get smashed" with the man she met on Tinder.
Security footage showed the pair kiss repeatedly at the Bluestone Room before walking arm in arm a short distance into the lobby of the CityLife hotel.
Ms Millane was shown to follow the defendant out of the lift at 9.41pm.
It was the last time she was seen alive.
Data from the man's phone showed he had used Google to browse websites for large duffel bags, suitcases and car hire, the court heard.
The defendant's phone was also used to search for "flesh-eating birds" and "are there vultures in New Zealand?" days later on 5 December 2018, the jury was told.
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 9 December 2018.
The defendant also watched a string of hardcore pornographic videos on his mobile phone and arranged another Tinder date the day after killing Ms Millane before disposing of her body, the court heard.
The New Zealander claims the backpacker's death was an accident and she had asked him to hold her throat during sex as a way to increase her pleasure, the jury was told.
The trial, which is expected to last for another four weeks, continues.