6 Aug 2020

Man who murdered Grace Millane did not get fair trial, lawyer argues

2:44 pm on 6 August 2020

The lawyer acting for the man who murdered Grace Millane is arguing he did not receive a fair trial.

Grace Millane

Grace Millane Photo: Supplied

The man is appealing his conviction and life sentence before three judges in the Court of Appeal at Auckland today.

The 28-year-old strangled Millane in his CityLife apartment in 2018 before watching pornography, contorting her body into a suitcase and burying it in the Waitākere Ranges.

His new lawyer, Rachael Reed QC, began this morning's hearing by saying she did not seek to condone or excuse her client's actions through his appeal.

"I cannot or will not do that; they are inexcusable; but the appeal is about whether the trial process was miscarried and every person before the court is entitled to a fair trial."

Reed was making detailed submissions that argue the man did not receive a fair trial when he stood accused of murdering Millane in November last year.

The 28-year-old is watching the hearing before Justice Kos, Justice Cooper and Justice Courtney via audio visual link from prison.

His father and small group of supporters sat in the public gallery throughout the hearing.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard and Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Brand, who continue to work closely with the Millane family, were in court today.

Millane matched the man on Tinder and organised to meet him at the base of the Sky Tower for a date that day, the eve of her 22nd birthday.

She was last seen alive walking into his CityLife apartment complex at 9.40pm after bar hopping through Auckland's CBD.

Her body was found contorted into a suitcase buried in a shallow grave in the Waitākere Ranges one week later.

At trial, the defence argued Millane accidentally died during consensual rough sex, saying the man's post mortem behaviour could be explained by him panicking in crisis.

He lied in his first police interview, telling authorities he had parted ways with Millane earlier that night with plans to see each other for a second date.

The man then backtracked in his second interview; admitting burying the young woman's body in the Waitākere Ranges.

He told the police he choked Millane during sex at her request and then fell asleep in the shower before waking up in the morning to find her dead on his floor with a bleeding nose.

Analysis of his phone found he watched pornography and took seven intimate photographs of her naked body, including pictures of her leg and foot.

The jury deliberated for five hours before returning a guilty verdict met with tears and emotion from Millane's parents David and Gillian, who sat through the trial.