BRITISH backpacker Grace Millane was strangled for up to five minutes by her Tinder date killer after going back to his apartment, a court has heard.
Grace, 22, from Wickford, Essex, vanished after going on a date with the 27-year-old defendant in Auckland, New Zealand, on December 1 last year.
Her body was later found naked inside a suitcase in woods outside the city.
Forensic pathologist Dr Simon Stables today told a murder trial Grace had died from strangulation with a deep internal bruise on her neck.
The defendant denies murder and says Grace died accidentally during sex after she asked him to choke her.
Describing the cause of death as “pressure to the neck”, Dr Stables said it would need to have been sustained for four or five minutes.
He told the jury: “It’s not going to happen with a gentle touch. It’s got to be with some force. It takes quite a bit of effort.”
Dr Stables added that other bruises on her body were “consistent with some level of restraint”.
Grace’s tearful mum and dad watched the evidence from the public gallery at Auckland’s High Court today.
The court had earlier heard from a student who went on a date with the defendant nine days before Grace’s death.
The woman, who cannot be identified, told the court he had lied to her that he was dying of cancer and pretended to be a cousin of a New Zealand rugby star.
She alleges the defendant then tried to suffocate her as she performed oral sex on him after going back to his apartment with him.
She said: “I didn’t believe a word he said.
“A person who almost killed someone by suffocating them, then to claim to be in pain to make me feel sympathy to get me to stay.
“There’s a word for that – a sociopath.”
Defending, Ron Mansfield told the court the woman had exchanged several text messages with the defendant after the date and claimed she had made up parts of her evidence.
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He said: “You’re attempting to turn this encounter into something quite different. You wanted to portray him in the worst possible light.
“You wanted to portray yourself as a bit of a victim.”
The trial continues.
Grace and the defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons[/caption]
Grace’s parents, David and Gillian Millane, outside court[/caption]