8 Nov 2019

Grace Millane trial: Accused man's search history detailed

8:51 am on 8 November 2019

Warning: This story and related coverage of the trial contain graphic details that may be distressing.

A detective who investigated the death of British backpacker Grace Millane has described to the court the search history on the phone of the man accused of murdering her.

Grace Millane

Ms Millane was travelling through New Zealand on an OE. Photo: Supplied

The 27-year-old man, who has name suppression, is accused of murdering the British backpacker between the night 1 December and the morning of 2 December last year.

A detective who worked on Ms Millane's case yesterday described what he found on the accused man's phone, including explicit photographs, screenshots of Ms Millane's Instagram profile and a search history ranging from pornography to flesh-eating birds.

Read more:

  • Message sent by Grace Millane to friend 'rang alarm bells'
  • Grace Millane murder trial: CCTV footage shows evening of Tinder date
  • Grace Millane murder trial: Police officer describes finding suitcase in shallow grave
  • It began at 1.29am with the search term 'Waitākere Ranges' and then 'hottest fire' a few minutes later.

    Detective Samuel Luker told the court the defendant then watched pornography on several websites before a 30-minute break.

    The court heard he took seven explicit photographs of Ms Millane's body and her lower leg and foot in quick succession about 1.45am.

    Mr Luker's evidence was too much for Ms Millane's mother Gillian, who began to cry in the public gallery before quickly leaving the room.

    The defendant stared straight ahead as more evidence was read.

    Mrs Millane returned to court after the afternoon break, where the court was told the man had made a number of Google searches about 6am the following day, including 'rigor mortis' and 'extra large bags' and 'carpet cleaner'. Later that afternoon the man searched 'flesh eating birds' and 'are there vultures in New Zealand'.

    Police also found two screenshots of Ms Millane's Instagram profile saved to his phone.

    The defendant and Grace Millane enter CityLife at 9.40pm.

    On Thursday the jury watched CCTV footage of Grace Millane on a date with the defendant in central Auckland. Photo: Supplied

    The jury earlier watched CCTV footage of the pair bar-hopping through Auckland's CBD on a date on the eve of her 22nd birthday, when Ms Millane was travelling through New Zealand on an OE.

    They also heard evidence from Ms Millane's friend who had a text message conversation with her during the date.

    It's the Crown's case that the man strangled Ms Millane in his apartment later the night they met. The defence team says she died an accidental death after the pair engaged in rough sex with Ms Millane's consent and encouragement.

    It is not disputed that the defendant put Ms Millane's body in a suitcase he later buried in a shallow grave in the Waitākere Ranges.

    The court has heard he went on a Tinder date with another woman while Ms Millane's body remained in his apartment.

    Yesterday, ESR scientist Dianne Crenfeldt told the jury she identified a number of possible blood stains in the room.

    Of particular interest in the room was an Adidas sports bag and suitcase in a wardrobe.

    "I was advised that these bags had been seen on CCTV being removed from the building at the time of interest.

    "I was also advised that the black sports bag, along with the bedding, had been taken to a dry cleaners where it had been cleaned."

    Ms Crenfeldt said there was no blood on the Adidas bag but stains were found in the carpet, on the fridge and on the suitcase.

    The jury will hear the remainder of her evidence today.

    The trial at the High Court in Auckland, before Justice Moore and a jury of of seven women and five men is set down for four weeks.

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