Grace Millane trial: What to expect from defence

Grace Millane. Photo: Supplied
Grace Millane. Photo: Supplied
After hearing evidence from 30 witnesses, the jury for the man accused of murdering Grace Millane will this week learn what the defence has to say.

The accused killer's chief of defence Ian Brookie has made hints he will call an expert pathology witness.

But he has otherwise kept his list of potential witnesses close to his chest as the trial enters its third week in the High Court at Auckland.
The court did not sit today and the trial will resume tomorrow at 10am.

Brookie and fellow defence counsel Ron Mansfield will also be in discussions with their client about whether the 27-year-old will himself give evidence.

Auckland's Crown Solicitor Brian Dickey and his team of prosecutors allege that on the night of December 1 last year the accused murdered Millane in his CityLife central city apartment.

Their list of witnesses, read at the start of the trial, included Millane's father David, her best friend Ameena Ashcroft, and several forensic experts, doctors and police officers.

The accused's chief defence lawyer Ian Brookie makes an argument for his client. Photo: NZ Herald
The accused's chief defence lawyer Ian Brookie makes an argument for his client. Photo: NZ Herald
On Friday, Justice Simon Moore heard legal arguments between the Crown and defence - the details of which cannot be reported by media.

The alleged killer has admitted putting the British backpacker's body into a suitcase and dumping it in a shallow grave amongst some bush in Auckland's Waitākere Ranges.

On Thursday, the last day of the Crown's evidence, the jury and those who packed into courtroom 11 watched the accused's second police interview.

The videotaped interview from December 8 by Detective Ewen Settle came two days after the suspect was first quizzed by the cop.

In the second interview the accused, who cannot be named for legal reasons, confessed to Millane dying in his apartment and his attempts to hide her body and evidence.

It was also the first time the accused talked about what he says occurred in the hotel room and the first time he was directly asked: "Did you kill Grace Millane?"

After returning to his apartment from drinking at three bars and restaurants on the eve of Millane's 22nd birthday, the accused says the pair began having "placid" sex.

But Millane then brought up the topic of bondage, he claimed, and asked him to hold her down and grab her neck.

"We started having more, I guess, violent sex," the accused told Settle.

He said the pair "ended up on the floor" before they began taking intimate photos of each other.

Afterwards, the alleged murderer said he passed out in the shower drunk.

One of the last images of Grace Millane alive shows her stepping into the lift of the CityLife...
One of the last images of Grace Millane alive shows her stepping into the lift of the CityLife hotel with her accused murderer not far behind. Photo: Supplied via NZ Herald
He recalled waking up when it was still dark and crawling back into the bed.

"I thought Grace had left," he said. But, the accused claims, he woke the next day to find "blood coming from her nose".

"I screamed, I yelled out at her. I tried to move her to see if she was awake."

During the interview Brookie asks his client: "Did you intend to cause her death?"

"No," the accused replies.

"I want her family to know that it wasn't intentional," the accused said, after his lawyer asked him why he was making the admissions.

"But I also want her family to have closure and the other night when I was questioned by police I was still shocked and I apologise for misleading. So yeah, it's basically so her family understand that it wasn't an intentional thing."

Settle also wondered why the accused didn't call for an ambulance.

The accused said he "dialled 111 ... But I didn't hit the button because I was scared at how bad it looked".

"There's a dead person in my room, I thought it looked terrible."

Midweek the court watched CCTV footage of the accused buying a suitcase, cleaning products, renting a car, moving Millane's body, buying a shovel and disposing evidence.

They also watched his first police interview with Settle from December 6, where he provided a false alibi and lied about when he last saw Millane.

After Settle confronted him with CCTV images discrediting his story he asked another police officer "have I been arrested for something I didn't do?"

Evidence was also called from the woman who went on a Tinder date with the accused at a Ponsonby bar during the afternoon of December 2 - just hours after Millane died.

Crown prosecutors Brian Dickey and Robin McCoubrey discuss the case. Photo: NZ Herald
Crown prosecutors Brian Dickey and Robin McCoubrey discuss the case. Photo: NZ Herald
While on the date, the young woman said, the accused talked of a man who had accidentally killed a woman during rough sex and was later convicted of manslaughter.

"It's crazy how guys can make one wrong move and go to jail for the rest of their life," he allegedly told her.

The accused also said "there are a lot of bodies going missing in the Waitākeres".

On Tuesday the jury heard evidence from the Crown's expert forensic pathologist Dr Simon Stables.

He determined Millane died from "pressure on the neck" - an area of her body which displayed bruising.

Stables said Millane's bruising was "probably around the time of death", while the pattern was consistent with "some sort of restraint".

But dating the bruises, he added, was notoriously difficult.

The accused accepts Millane died from pressure to her neck, but claims it occurred in a moment of sexual misadventure rather than any intended harm.

While Stables said it was impossible to tell, he agreed with Brookie when asked if Millane's bruises might have occurred during rough sex.

The court also heard testimony from the accused's Tinder date on November 2 last year - a month before he met Millane.

She was one of three woman to tell the jury of the accused's supposed predilection for erotic asphyxiation.

The November 2 date said she feared for her life after being suffocated during oral sex with the defendant.

But during cross-examination, Mansfield produced her text message history with the accused. It included more than 700 messages, many of which appeared to show an interest between the pair in continuing a relationship.

Despite this, the woman never saw the accused again and said she continued to message the him because she "didn't want to make him angry".

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