'I couldn't move my arms or breathe' - previous date

Grace Millane. Photo: Supplied
Grace Millane. Photo: Supplied
Warning: Contains content of a sexual nature.

The man accused of murdering Grace Millane suffocated a woman he met on Tinder during sex, a court has heard.

The 27-year-old man is on trial in the High Court this month, charged with murdering the British backpacker between 1 and 2 December last year.

It's not disputed that the British backpacker died in his apartment and he later buried her body in a suitcase in the Waitakere Ranges.

The Crown says he strangled her while the defence says Ms Millane's death was accidental after the pair had rough sex with her consent and encouragement.

This afternoon the jury heard from a woman who met the man last November after matching with him on Tinder eight months prior.

She told the jury they met in the CBD before buying alcohol and going to his apartment to talk and drink.

"Earlier he'd been talking about how much he loved me and wanted to be with me and stuff.

"He walked over and he kissed me and then tried to lead me over to the bed but I stayed sitting down."

The woman said she told the man she didn't want to have intercourse but instead gave him oral sex.

She told the court it was during this period that the man sat down; putting his full weight on her face.

"I couldn't breathe. He sat down so that he wasn't supporting any of his body weight but he had grabbed my forearms..so I couldn't move my arms or breathe.

"I started kicking to indicate I couldn't breathe.. kicking violently.. he would have felt me fighting against his arms."

The woman told Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey she kicked "with all her might" for 30 to 40 seconds before pretending she had passed out.

"I decided maybe I would just try to lie completely still and limp because then maybe he'd realise something was wrong. So I just lay there completely still, but he still didn't get off."

Ms Millane's mother Gillian cried as the woman described feeling helpless and panicked as she resumed kicking against him.

"There were so many thoughts running through my mind but it was more that this can't be the way that I die. I just started thinking about my family and friends. I was just scared."

She said after another 30 or 40 seconds of her kicking the defendant then sat up and she moved her body out from under him.

"I went to the edge of the bed gasping because I couldn't breathe. He just said to me 'Oh, what's wrong?'. I was like 'What do you mean what's wrong? I couldn't breathe'.

"He turned to me almost accusing and quite cold and said 'Oh, you don't think I did that on purpose, do you?' I didn't know what to say I was still trying to catch my breath. I think I was just in disbelief and shock."

The woman said the accused's tone "still gave her the chills".

'He did choke me a bit'

This morning the jury also heard from another woman who also met the accused for sex after matching with him on Tinder last November.

She told the court they exchanged messages on the dating app and via text message before agreeing to meet at his CityLife apartment at 7pm on 22 November.

"We asked each other what we prefer during sex and so I did mention that I like rough sex and also choking.

"He did say that he likes rough sex as well but I don't remember if he said anything about choking."

The witness told the jury she picked up a bottle of rum on her way to the man's apartment and met him in the lobby before going up to his room and chatting about their lives.

She drank about five rum and coke drinks while he drank about four beers, she said.

"It started off as just talking to one another. Then after he went to the toilet on the way out he kissed me. From there, it just slowly moved to the bed."

The woman said the pair then had sex, where the accused put one hand around her neck with her consent.

"He did choke me a bit because that's a preference of mine."

The jury has been told it will hear from a pathologist who will confirm Ms Millane's cause of death was pressure to the neck.

The woman said she did not have to physically push the man away and the choking left no marks or soreness.

"It wasn't too hard that I was gasping for air but it wasn't so soft that I wouldn't be able to feel it so it was just the right pressure."

The pair ate pizza the man ordered and she left his apartment about an hour later, the court heard.

The woman said they exchanged more messages a week later and the man was keen to see her again but she "didn't feel it anymore".

"I did say we can chill just as a hangout, but he thought chill as in sex, but I was like chill as in hang out."

Under cross examination, one of the man's lawyers Ron Mansfield asked if people exchanged photos of themselves, including intimate parts of their bodies.

There was brief pause in Mr Mansfield's questioning as the woman began to cry, after confirming people did sometimes exchange photos.

She also confirmed she had enjoyed the experience that, apart from the consensual choking, was "vanilla" and didn't have any reason to believe the man was violent.

The court heard she approached police of her own volition after learning of Grace Millane's disappearance.

Ms Millane's parents David and Gillian are back in court this week, supported by family liason officer Toni Jordan and Detective Inspector Scott Beard.

The trial before Justice Moore and a jury of seven women and five men is set down for four weeks.

 

 

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