Grace Millane trial: Accused lied to police, court told

The defendant and Grace Millane hug when meeting for the first time at the base of the Sky Tower...
The defendant and Grace Millane hug when meeting for the first time at the base of the Sky Tower in Auckland. Photo: supplied via RNZ
The man accused of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane initially lied to the police about the last time he saw her, a jury has been told.

The 27-year-old is on trial in the High Court at Auckland this month after pleading not guilty to murdering the young woman, who died in his apartment after meeting him on a Tinder date on the eve of her 22nd birthday in December last year.

Ms Millane's body was found in a suitcase in the Waitakere Ranges after her family raised the alarm when she didn't respond to birthday messages.

Detective Constable Diana Levinzon Photo: RNZ
Detective Constable Diana Levinzon Photo: RNZ
This afternoon, Detective Constable Diana Levinzon - one of 25 police officers who worked on the case - told the court she saw the defendant had commented 'beautiful, very radiant' on a picture on Ms Millane's Facebook profile.

She said she messaged the man using a police account and he later called her, saying he hung out with Ms Millane at Sky City after matching with her on Tinder and last saw her on Victoria St when they parted ways at 10pm.

The jury has now seen CCTV footage which showed the pair entering CityLife at 9.40pm, where the defendant rented an apartment, after bar hopping for several hours.

it is not disputed Ms Millane died in the apartment or that the man put her body in a suitcase he later buried in the Waitakere Ranges.

What is in dispute is how Ms Millane came to die of pressure to her neck - by murder or consensual rough sex gone wrong.

The court was told that Detective Constables Jason Han and Thomas Heimuli met the man at a downtown foodcourt shortly after he spoke to Ms Levinzon.

Mr Han said the accused told them he had met Ms Millane at Andy's Burgers and Bar at SkyCity after connecting on Tinder the previous day.

The court heard the man reiterated they parted ways at Victoria St that night and the last memory he had of the young woman was her walking away from him.

Mr Heimuli said he took a photograph of the defendant with his consent after speaking to him.

Detective Toni Jordan told the jury she had seen a photograph of the man by the time she went to CityLife, the police's last known address for him.

Ms Jordan said she was going through the apartment's log book when an employee told her the man she was looking for was in the foyer.

"I didn't expect to see him at the address. He'd told colleagues he lives at a different address altogether."

Ms Jordan said she and a colleague followed him down the street, breaking into a jog before catching up to him on Queen St.

The court heard all three then got into their police car to go to the Auckland Central Police Station.

Earlier today, a forensic pathologist told the jury the British backpacker died of pressure to the neck.

The trial continues.






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