29 Apr 2021

Auckland businessman Leo Molloy sentenced for naming Grace Millane's killer during his trial

3:33 pm on 29 April 2021

An Auckland business man has been sentenced to community work for naming backpacker Grace Millane's killer while a suppression order was in place.

Auckland businessman / restaurateur Leo Molloy.

Leo Molloy. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Leo Molloy was today convicted in the Auckland District Court and sentenced to 350 hours of community work for breaching a suppression order.

Molloy, who had earlier pleaded guilty, was also ordered to pay a fine of $15,000.

Millane was murdered by Jesse Kempson, who she met on Tinder in December 2018.

Kempson's name was suppressed by the courts until December last year, but was published in international media outlets.

In late 2019, Kempson went on trial at the High Court at Auckland for Millane's murder.

Today Judge Peter Winter read out a summary of facts, detailing Molloy's social media use on 22 November 2019.

At the time, the jury in the Millane murder trial were deliberating.

Judge Winter said Molloy had posted on a forum within the NZ Premier Racing Community website early that morning.

Under the username 'poundforfound,' Molloy wrote "This is the Grace Millane Murderer."

He said her killer had name suppression because he was facing another independent rape charge.

That evening Kempson was found guilty of murdering Millane, but his name remained suppressed.

Late that night, another post was made on the forum by Molloy, this time saying Kempson had been employed at his sister's restaurant bar and had briefly flatted with his niece.

Today, Molloy's Lawyer David Jones said his client should be discharged without conviction.

He said Molloy had been motivated to make the post out of a deep-rooted sense of justice, and a feeling that Millane had been victim shamed.

"As the trial got toward its conclusion, the concern that he had, and the frustration that he had at the inequity of that, became such that he then made the post, on the morning and then later in the day when the jury was deliberating."

Jones QC said Kempson's identity was one of the worst kept secrets there could be and had been published elsewhere.

He also said Molloy had shown remorse for his actions, and was of good character, spending significant time doing charity and community work.

A conviction could negatively impact Molloy's veterinary registration, liquor license registration, and international travel, Jones said.

Police prosecutor Danielle Houghton said the offending was serious and intentional, and could have prejudiced further trials.

She said the posts had come at a time of high public interest, and that while Kempson's name was known by many, it was not known universally.

Judge Peter Winter said the gravity of the offending outweighed the identified consequences for Molloy.

He said Molloy was an intelligent man, and would be aware that the high court had imposed name suppression "for a very good reason".

Judge Winter sentenced Molloy to 350 hours of community work and ordered him to pay a fine of $15,000.