- Warning: This story contains upsetting details of a violent crime.
- British backpacker Grace Millane was killed the night before her 22nd birthday after a Tinder date in Auckland, New Zealand, last year.
- Her date, a 27-year-old man from New Zealand, was convicted of her murder on Friday.
- He had repeatedly denied murder, claiming that she died by accident after she asked him to choke her during consensual sex.
- It is currently illegal to report the man’s name due to a legal restriction put in place last year by a New Zealand judge. He will be sentenced in February 2020, at which point the restriction may be lifted.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A New Zealand man has been convicted of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane after a Tinder date last December. But it’s still illegal to report his identity.
He had repeatedly denied murder, claiming that she died by accident after she asked him to choke her during consensual sex.
He is due to be sentenced in February 2020. He is likely to receive a life sentence, which comes with a non-parole period of at least ten years, the AP said.
The man’s name has been suppressed by the New Zealand legal system since last year after his lawyer convinced a judge that anonymity was needed for a fair trial.
The restriction follows a principle in the law of New Zealand, which also exists in closely-related systems like those of the UK and Australia, that sometimes reporting of jury trials should be restricted in order to make sure the jurors reach their verdict only on the evidence given in court.
US courts do not have this rule.
Newspapers in New Zealand and in Millane’s home, the UK, have not reported his name since. International news outlets have also respected the ban.
Earlier this year the New Zealand government criticized Google for featuring the man’s name in search results. It is still possible to surface old media reports which include the man’s identity.
The media ban on naming the man could be lifted when he is sentenced, but that is not guaranteed.
Here is a summary of the case:
- Millane and the man went on a date in Auckland on December 1, 2018, after meeting on Tinder earlier. It was the night before her 22nd birthday.
- They spent several hours drinking in bars around the city before returning to the CityLife Hotel, where the man had been staying, according to the BBC and Sky News.
- Surveillance footage showed the pair entering his hotel at 9:40 p.m. that night.
- They had consensual sex during this time. She died that night.
- Before 8 a.m. the next day, he found her not breathing and with “blood coming out of her nose,” the BBC reported him saying in a police interview. He left her body in the hotel room.
- Surveillance videos from that day showed him buying a suitcase, renting a car, and buying cleaning products.
- That afternoon he went on a date with another woman, which he had scheduled on Tinder that morning, the BBC reported.
- During this date he calmly discussed a man who had been jailed for manslaughter after accidentally killing his girlfriend by strangulation, the woman testified, according to the BBC and MailOnline.
- At 9 p.m. that night he left CityLife Hotel with two suitcases. Millane’s body was in one of them, according to prosecutors.
- On December 3, he drove the suitcase containing Millane’s body out to the Waitakere Ranges, a dense woodland west of Auckland, and buried her in a shallow grave there. On his way out of the city he also bought a shovel.
- Police officers found Millane’s body about a week later.
Millane’s parents cried as the man was convicted at the end of the three-week trial.
David Millane, Grace’s father, told reporters after the trial that the family’s friends and relatives would welcome the verdict, but “it will not reduce the pain and suffering we have had to endure over the past year.”
“Grace was taken in the most brutal fashion a year ago and our lives have been ripped apart,” he said.
Hundreds of people across New Zealand came together to mourn Millane’s death.
The country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, apologized to Millane’s family last year, saying: “Your daughter should have been safe here and she wasn’t and I’m sorry for that.”