Grace Millane murder: Accused shown ‘wheeling body out of hotel lift in suitcase’

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
The man accused of killing Grace Millane is seen taking suitcases into a lift (Grab)

CCTV footage showed to jurors in the Grace Millane murder trial shows the moment the man accused of killing her allegedly wheeled her body out of a hotel in a suitcase.

The 27-year-old-suspect, who has not been named because of a suppression order, is allegedly shown smuggling the body of the British backpacker out of the CityLife hotel in Auckland, New Zealand, hours after he “strangled her to death”.

He was said to have wheeled a trolley into the lift at the hotel and taking it to his room before returning with two suitcases – one of which he has now admitted contained the body of Ms Millane.

Footage of the man’s subsequent interview with police showed the accused telling detectives that the bag remained in his room.

But the trial heard how he had used the suitcase to take Ms Millane’s body to nearby dense woodland, where he allegedly buried it in a shallow grave.

Ms Millane, from Wickford, Essex, went on date with a man she met on the dating site Tinder in Auckland on 1 December, 2018.

The Crown has alleged that the defendant strangled her and shoved her body inside a suitcase before burying her in a forested area outside Auckland.

Ms Millane was found stuffed inside a suitcase in a shallow grave (PA)

The defence claims the death, on either 1 or 2 December, 2018, was accidental and occurred during rough sexual intercourse.

Forensic experts told Auckland High Court on Friday there was evidence Ms Millane's blood had been cleaned up, which the defendant told police he had done.

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.

"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, he said.

Toxicologist Diana Kappatos said testing showed no illicit or prescribed drugs and the presence of 106mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in the deceased's body, double the legal limit for drivers in New Zealand.

The accused was later seen wheeling suitcases out of the lift and through the hotel lobby (Grab)

But Ms Kappatos said microbial action after death may have increased or decreased the concentration of alcohol in Ms Millane's body.

Security footage of the young woman and the defendant as they drank at various bars in the city was shown to jurors last week.

Security footage showed the pair kiss 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.

Ms Millane was shown to follow the defendant out of the lift at 9.41pm.

It was the last time she was seen alive.

The court heard that data from the man's phone showed he 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 5 December, 2018.

Records showed the defendant had searched online for "the hottest fire", "large bags near me" and "Waitakere Ranges" – the area where Ms Millane's body was later found contorted inside a suitcase, on 9 December, 2018 – before going on another Tinder date later that day.

The trial, which is expected to last for another four weeks, continues.