Grace Millane’s killer Jesse Kempson is described as an ‘oddball’ by former friends
Grace Millane’s killer was a serial fantasist who made up a tissue of lies to feed his obsession of having violent sex with young women, Mail Online can reveal.
Jesse Kempson told would-be sexual partners that he had cancer, his parents were dead and his cousin was an All Black rugby star in bizarre attempts to seduce them.
But in reality the ‘creepy’ 27-year-old was just a failed salesman who was sacked shortly before he murdered Ms Millane – a former student from Wickford, Essex, on a gap year – in an Auckland hotel room after a Tinder date last December.
Described by teammates on the amateur softball side he played for as an ‘oddball’ and ‘loner’, the good-looking sportsman said he has a law degree and was a successful businessman.
Indeed Kempson’s family describe him as a ‘complex character’ who had fallen out with his father two years ago and doesn’t speak to most of his other relatives.
His grandmother says that he was ‘a very confused young man’ and paints a picture of his chaotic life after his parents split up.
His grandfather said that he ‘loved his sport’ but in more recent times he’d been ‘at a bit of a loose end’.
‘He was a nice kid but he sort of fell out with everybody, which is what happens with broken up marriages,’ he said.
He added that the killer, who had a child with a woman in Australia, was estranged from his father because of ‘a difference in opinion on life’.
A former teammate told Mail Online: ‘He was creepy towards girls. His life revolved around girls, taking to girls.
Ms Millane, from Wickford, in Essex, the daughter of a builder, was murdered in a New Zealand hotel room last December by a man she had met just a few hours before
Kempson – a salesman who was sacked from his job on the day he began talking to her on Tinder – was found guilty of murdering her today in Auckland after a three-week trial
Ms Millane’s father David touches his eye outside at Auckland High Court after the jury retired to consider their verdicts – then came back five hours later to find his daughter’s killer guilty
‘He was always trying to get with younger girls… he was very quiet around the boys.’
The source said that he and some other men had intervened once when he tried to spark a relationship with a woman, warning her off spending time with him.
Ms Millane (pictured), the daughter of an Essex-based builder, was on a round-the-world trip when she died on the eve of her 22nd birthday last December
Harrowing CCTV shows smiling Grace entering the hotel holding the hand of her killer Kempson where he would take her life in his apartment
CCTV footage from inside the hotel lift captured the last time Grace was seen alive not knowing she was in the company of a murderous pervert
‘I just want anyone who I’ve hurt, let down, to know I’m truly sorry from my heart,’ wrote the then-26-year-old as he owned up to ‘arrogance and selfishness’ that had damaged his close relationships.
‘But with that being said,’ he wrote, ‘we can change how we treat each other and over time I’ve learnt how much compassion we all have as people.
‘When we grow up, we make mistakes. That’s how we improve.’
Online, at least, his efforts to turn his life around appeared convincing.
But in real life, he was on the brink, compulsively turning to Tinder and weaving fantastic tales of wealth and success to lure girls to motels or his £190-a-week studio apartment in an inner city hotel.
Grace’s final hours on the Tinder date that led to her death
December 1, 2018
5.45pm: Grace Millane was shown arriving in front of the casino’s 20 foot tall Christmas tree, where she stood waiting for her date. She sends a picture of the tree to her parents in Essex. He arrives and they hug.
6pm: The two of them walk into the casino and find Andy’s Burger Bar.He and Grace were seen ordering drinks and finding a table.
7.12pm: The couple left the burger bar and cross the road into the Mexican cafe where they spend the next hour until the defendant came pay the bill with her standing beside him.
8.27pm: The pair were filmed in the distance crossing Albert Street and moving ever closer to the killer’s home. They headed into the Bluestone Room where the accused had earlier been drinking beer alone. They kiss
9.41pm: CCTV shows the couple entering the hotel where the killer was living. They enter the lift and head to the killer’s apartment. In the hours that followed she was brutally murdered, possibly in the early hours of December 2, her birthday.
Kempson had moved there after a fallout with female housemates, increasingly concerned about his mood swings, attempted womanising and threatening behaviour.
He boasted of being a businessman and of plans to buy a glamorous restaurant on Auckland’s waterfront.
It was all lies, and, in fact, what was not revealed in court was that he had been sacked from his job as a salesman the very day he and Grace began messaging each other on Tinder; Friday, November 30.
The reasons remain unknown, but may well have affected the killer’s frame of mind the next day when he set out to meet Grace with a hug beside the Christmas tree at the SkyCity casino.
Disturbingly, just 11 minutes before she was last seen alive, the killer again used social media to call his date ‘beautiful’ and ‘radiant’.
He was then seen on CCTV rooting through her handbag while she went to the toilet as they drank cocktails together on the date.
Certainly, there was no compassion for the young graduate as he squeezed the life out of her during sex, took appalling pictures of her body, watched horrific porn and crammed her into a suitcase which he buried in the woods.
Kempson used the three-week murder trial to tell poisonous lies about Grace dying accidentally during rough sex he falsely claimed she had enjoyed and even encouraged because she was a fan of the 50 Shades of Grey films.
In fact he had choked her to death for his own sexual pleasure on the eve of her 22nd birthday on December 2, watched porn afterwards and stuffed her body in a suitcase.
The pervert even left Grace in his blood-soaked room to go on another date before he decided to bury her in a muddy hole a New Zealand forest. He will be sentenced in February.
Last night, his own stepbrother said the family were divided over the verdict and he doubted whether the powerfully built man set out to kill.
Ms Millane’s killer played for an amateur softball team in Auckland. He told would-be sexual partners that his cousin was a rugby star for the All Blacks and that he was suffering cancer
Friends of the ‘oddball’, seen on CCTV with Ms Millane going back to his hotel room, say he had an obsession with having violent sex with young women and pursued them on social media
Family of the killer, seen here taking a suitcase containing her body out of the hotel in a lift, say he was a ‘complicated young man’ who lived with his grandparents when his parents split
‘It’s in the moment,’ he told TVNZ. ‘He had the opportunity and he kept going and he took Grace’s life. I don’t think it was a violence thing, to me I think it was power. It was in a split moment he enjoyed the power and kept going.
But the man unequivocally condemned his stepbrother as a ‘pathological liar that lies over pointless things and continues to lie until the point where he has got no out, absolutely no out, and then he just breaks down and cries and runs away.
‘But he can’t do that any more thankfully. It’s just absolutely terrible that a life had to be lost because of that.’
The killer’s tears in a police interview in which he lied over and over again about how Grace had died were ‘more tears for himself.’
And the family, he said, wanted Grace’s loved ones to know how deeply they felt for them. ‘I’m just so incredibly sorry for their loss, to know it’s one of our family members, even though it’s not our actions, it’s very difficult and I can’t imagine the pain and hurt and what they have had to go through in court to hear all the stuff about BDSM and all the actions (the killer) took.
‘It’s all because he does not have any shred of a decent human being inside of him and could not just confess to the fact that he murdered her.’
Pictures of the bedroom where Grace was strangled to death during sex were shown to the jury
A photo issued Auckland City Police showing the use of luminol to highlight the blood stains on the floor of the killer’s apartment
Forensic examiners are pictured marking out the area where the suitcase containing Grace’s body was buried
Shocking pictures played to the jury reveal the moment police discovered the body of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane dumped in this muddy hole in the ground
Meanwhile Ms Millane’s parents David and Gill, who had flown 11,000 miles from their home in Essex to watch Kempson be convicted of their daughter’s murder.
Mr Millane, who runs a building company with his two sons in the UK, sobbed as he hit out at the man who ‘ripped their lives apart’ when he throttled her to death.
Held by his wife, the father broke down on the steps of Auckland High Court as he paid tribute to his ‘beautiful, talented, loving daughter’.
‘Grace was a beautiful, talented, loving daughter. Grace was our sunshine and she will be missed forever,’ he said.
‘She did not deserve to be murdered in such a barbaric way. Grace was taken away from us in the most brutal fashion a year ago and our lives and family have been ripped apart. This will be with us for the rest of our lives’.
He added: ‘The verdict of murder today will be welcomed by every member of the Millane family and friends of Grace. It will not reduce the pain and suffering we have had to endure over the past year’.
Grace’s parents sat through the entire three-week trial where their daughter’s killer told lie after lie, which the jury saw through
Mr Millane thanked the police and prosecutors, who he said had ‘never flinched away from the more intimate details of the case’ and were ‘compassionate and thoughtful’ to the family.
‘Last but not least we would like to thank the people of New Zealand.
‘They have opened their hearts to Grace and our family. I cannot express our gratitude enough for all the offers of gifts and kindness that we have received over the last year.
‘Finally, we must return home to try and pick up the pieces of our lives day-to-day without our beloved Grace. Thank you.’
The guilty verdict brought to an end an 11-month saga of pain for the close-knit family, who waved goodbye to their daughter in October last year as she set out on a world tour after graduating from Lincoln University.
After spending time in Peru, she arrived in New Zealand in mid-November and arranged her fateful Tinder for the night of December 1, planning to celebrate her 22nd birthday the next day.
She greeted her killer with a hug, standing beside a Christmas tree in the courtyard of the SkyCity casino. They toured several bars, drinking cocktails and, as she told one of her best friends in a text message, she was clearly impressed.
‘I click with him so well,’ she wrote to her friend Ameena Ashcroft. ‘I will let you know what happens tomorrow.’
By the morning, however, she was lying dead in the third-floor apartment at the CityLife hotel in central where Kempson lived.
She had been strangled during sex and the killer had taken a series of intimate photographs of her naked body before watching hardcore pornography through the early hours.
The man began her 22nd birthday, by buying a suitcase to transport her body to a shallow grave in remote bushland.
But even before he did so, he was arranging another Tinder date for that afternoon, in which he told a woman a bogus story about a supposed friend who had killed a woman during sex.
A video of the killer’s (left) interview with police was played to jurors at Auckland High Court in New Zealand today. A photograph of Grace lay on the table in front of him
He was first snared by a message he left on Ms Millane’s Facebook profile page the night before, as he waited to leave the Bluestone Room bar around the corner.
Contacted by police, he wove an elaborate web of lies, at first claiming he and his date had parted as friends, planning to meet the next day.
Trapped by CCTV showing him buying the suitcase, however, he changed his story, claiming his victim had told him she had learned BDSM sex games with a former boyfriend and had asked him to choke her during intercourse.
He said they had each taken photographs of each other’s private parts on their cellphones and that after sex he had fallen asleep, drunk, under the shower without suspecting the gap-year student was in danger.
His lies were exposed by data recovered from his mobile phone which showed he had searched for ‘Waitakere Ranges’, the hills where he later buried Ms Millane, and ‘hottest fire’, minutes before taking the photos of her.
That, the verdict confirmed, was proof that, as Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey had told the jury, he had ‘eroticised her death.’
‘It’s not safe sex play that killed Grace Millane, it’s strangulation,’ said Mr Dickey. ‘At some point of which she lost consciousness and would have become limp and lifeless and he had to carry on.
‘And if that’s not reckless murder someone will have to explain to me what is.’
How marketing graduate Grace Millane’s last act of kindness was to cut off her flowing locks and send them to a charity that makes wigs for sick children before she set off on year-long trip around the world
British backpacker Grace Millane was a young woman with the world at her feet.
She dedicated her spare time to helping charities close to her heart, and had saved her money to pay for a round-the-world trip after studying hard for three years and graduating from the University of Lincoln with a Bachelor’s degree.
But she was killed on the eve of her 22nd birthday, by failed salesman and amateur softball player, Kempson.
Grace Emmie Rose Millane, from Wickford in Essex, had graduated with a degree in advertising and marketing, and waved goodbye to her family as she embarked on a world tour.
She was just six weeks into it when her life was cruelly cut short.
Before she travelled abroad, she cut off her long hair and donated it to the Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs for children who have lost their hair because of cancer.
As they laid her to rest, Ms Millane’s family asked for any donations to be made to charities close to her heart – The Little Princess Trust, White Ribbon UK, Mutts in Distress and Smile Train.
Grace had spent six weeks in South America and Peru, arriving in New Zealand on 20 November 2018 and travelling around the upper North Island.
She arrived in Auckland on 30 November – two days before she was killed.
She had also been planning a second long-haul trip to Asia.
Grace’s mother Gillian is recovering from a breast cancer operation, which stopped her from flying to New Zealand to join the search for her daughter’s body. Grace posted this heartwrenching picture of her in September 2011, captioning it, ‘Me and Mummy Millane’
Left, Grace in April 2017. Right, Adventure-loving Grace is pictured here in September 2016, in front of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge
The Millanes: (L-R) father David, brother Michael, mother Gillian, brother Declan and Grace, who died in Auckland, New Zealand in December last year
Declan Millane posted this photo after his little sister’s death. He wrote: ‘You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away’
Her father David, 60, said in an interview that he hoped his daughter’s death would ‘not deter even one person from venturing out into the world’
Kempson denied murdering Ms Millane (left and right) on December 1 last year, the night before her 22nd birthday
Grace’s parents sat through the entire three-week trial where their daughter’s killer told lie after lie, which the jury saw through
She leaves behind her mother and father Gillian and David, and big brothers Michael, 29, and Declan, 26.
Her family said the ‘beautiful’ 22-year-old had a ‘passion to see the world’ and even had a trip to the Far East planned.
Her mother Gillian is currently recovering from a breast cancer operation and was unable to join the hunt for their daughter’s body in New Zealand because of the procedure.
Her father David, 60, said in an interview that he hoped his daughter’s death would ‘not deter even one person from venturing out into the world’.
Mr Millane added: ‘We all fly the nest. Her death should not deter any man or woman from following their dreams.’
Mr Millane runs a family construction business with Miss Millane’s brothers, Michael and Declan.
In an emotional tribute after her death, Grace’s big brother Declan posted a heartfelt note to his sister, quoting the words of a famous 1940 song by Jimmie Davis.
‘You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.’
Little Grace with her big brothers Michael and Declan. In an emotional tribute after her death, Declan posted a heartfelt note to his sister, quoting the words of a famous 1940 song by Jimmie Davis
Grace Emmie Rose Millane, from Wickford in Essex, had a ‘passion to see the world’
Speaking outside court, his voice breaking with emotion, David Millane broke down as he remembered Grace as a ‘beautiful, loving, talented daughter’
In October, Grace’s family and friends filled donated handbags with essential and luxury items and gave them to homeless women in refuges in a bid to help victims of domestic abuse.
Her cousin Hannah O’Callaghan said the family had wanted to do something in her name to ‘give her a legacy’.
She said the idea started out when they saw a social media post about filling a handbag with items for homeless women.
Mrs O’Callaghan, 37, said: ‘We thought it was a great idea and thought ‘how could we do something similar in Grace’s name?’ It helps that Grace loved a handbag.’
More than 500 bags were donated to the campaign, called Love Grace x, exceeding the family’s initial target of 50.
Mrs O’Callaghan said: ‘It has been extremely difficult as a family and doing something like this is helping us get together, giving us something to focus on and it is helping others, which is all we can hope to achieve out of what we have been through.’
The appeal continues to be inundated with donations and there are four collection points for Love Grace x across Essex at Club Kingswood in Basildon, The Fox and Hounds Pub in Ramsden Heath, The Pyramid Centre in Thurrock and Hemming Too Stores in Ramsden Bellhouse.