November 22, 2019 10.35 am This story is over 52 months old

Man found guilty of Lincoln graduate Grace Millane’s murder

He will be sentenced in February 2020

A Tinder date who strangled a former Lincoln student to death during sex before stuffing her body inside a suitcase has been found guilty of murder.

A packed court in New Zealand previously heard that Grace Millane was strangled during sex with her killer. The backpacker’s body was later found in bushland outside Auckland, New Zealand.

Grace, a graduate from the University of Lincoln and former hockey club vice captain, was on a trip to New Zealand when she went on a date with the defendant, who cannot be named until a court suspension is lifted, on December 1, a day before her 22nd birthday. They had met on the Tinder dating app and visited a number of bars in the city centre.

They returned to the City Life hotel and leisure complex, where he was staying. A trial heard he had chocked her to death during sex.

“I will miss her laugh the most”: Friend’s emotional tribute to Grace Millane

Tributes continue to pour in for Grace Millane. Photo: Facebook

Following her death, the court heard the defendant searched for pornographic content online, and took photographs of her body. He also went on a date with another woman the following day while Grace was still in his apartment.

During the trial at the city’s high court, the 27-year-old defendant claimed she died accidentally during “rough sex”. He reportedly showed no emotion as the verdict was read out in court, with some members of the jury breaking down and sobbing as they left the courtroom for the final time.

Justice Simon Moore said the defendant would be sentenced on February 21, 2020.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Grace Millane’s parents, who were seated in the first row of the public gallery, broke down in tears and embraced each other as they heard the guilty verdict.

Her father David Millane told journalists: “This will be with us for the rest of our lives. Grace was a a beautiful, talented, loving daughter. Grace was our sunshine and she will be missed forever.”

He added that she “did not deserve to be murdered in such a barbaric way”.

Nearly 39 witnesses were heard from during the trial and CCTV footage was collected by police to track the alleged killer’s movements The accused was also said to have lied to police about his movements.

Photo of his apartment, issued by Auckland City Police

Photo issued by Auckland City Police. Inspectors used luminal to highlight blood stains on the floor of the killer’s apartment.

Other women told their story to the jury regarding their encounters with the defendant.

An Auckland woman, who matched with the defendant on Tinder and met him for a sexual encounter described him as a “sociopath” in the New Zealand Herald. She was one of three women to tell their story to the jury, including the accused’s alleged supposed liking for erotic asphyxiation.

The New Zealand Herald said the defence, however, used expert evidence and those who knew Millane to say it was an accidental death during erotic asphyxiation.

The publication also said that the court was told of some material which had been extracted from Millane’s laptop by a computer expert. Three chats were recovered from the BDSM online app Whiplr, which she was a member of, and in one messaging platform she reportedly outlined her interest in BDSM and other forms of sex.

Friends who set up a fundraising page for charity in her memory managed to raise more than £6,000. 

They said at the time: “Grace Millane was a beautiful young woman who spent her three years at University as a cherished member of the Hockey Club. Upon learning the tragic news, the society have decided to raise money in Grace’s honour for both a Lincolnshire based cancer charity – Candles (from the funds raised on Wednesday), and the Lucie Blackman trust, who support British victims overseas and have supported her family during this time.”