Man accused of Grace Millane murder described as a lying sociopath in court Auckland

The man accused of killing British backpacker Grace Millane was today branded a ‘lying sociopath’ by one of his previous Tinder dates, who claimed he pretended to have cancer.   

The defendant, 27, told the university student he was dying and that he was related to an All Blacks rugby star in a string of self-serving lies, his murder trial was told today. 

She earlier told jurors she had to fight for her life when he suffocated her during sex on their date, which came weeks before Grace, 22, vanished.  

Giving evidence at Auckland’s High Court in New Zealand, the woman, whose identity is protected, described the alleged killer as a ‘sociopath’. 

She denied persistent attempts by his barrister to suggest she had made up her story to explain her dealings with the man when she learned he had been charged with murder.

The defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of strangling Grace during sex on December 1 or 2 last year and burying her naked body in a suitcase in the woods. 

The defendant, 27, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is pictured flanked by corrections officers during the opening of the trial in Auckland, New Zealand last week

The defendant, 27, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is pictured flanked by corrections officers during the opening of the trial in Auckland, New Zealand last week

The defendant, 27, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is pictured flanked by corrections officers during the opening of the trial in Auckland, New Zealand last week 

The Millanes: (L-R) father David, brother Michael, mother Gillian, brother Declan and Grace

The Millanes: (L-R) father David, brother Michael, mother Gillian, brother Declan and Grace

The Millanes: (L-R) father David, brother Michael, mother Gillian, brother Declan and Grace

He claims her death was accidental after she asked him to choke her during sex.

His lawyer Ron Mansfield said: ‘You’re attempting to turn this encounter into something quite different. 

The defendant's brief Ron Mansfield at the court on Thursday last week

The defendant's brief Ron Mansfield at the court on Thursday last week

The defendant’s brief Ron Mansfield at the court on Thursday last week

‘You wanted to portray him in the worst possible light. You wanted to portray yourself as a bit of a victim.’

But she told the court: ‘It was one of the worst days of my life. You can’t take that away.

‘He would have seen me kicking and writhing, you can’t say that I was enjoying it.’

The woman said the man had pretended to be dying of cancer on the night of their Tinder date in November last year, just a month before Grace, of Wickford, Essex, was killed in the same apartment.

He also said Aaron Smith, a scrum half who won the 2015 Rugby World Cup and has played 92 times for the legendary national team, was his cousin and had invited him to watch the All Blacks’ last game with the team’s wives and girlfriends, she said.

He even pretended to call the star and leave a phone message for him, she told the court.

The man also boasted about a $500,000 business deal he had pulled off that day and told her he had been raped by a male relative but had enlisted members of a gang to chase the man away.

Ms Millane's body was found in a wooded area near Auckland a week after she was last seen at a hotel in Auckland city centre, a court heard

Ms Millane's body was found in a wooded area near Auckland a week after she was last seen at a hotel in Auckland city centre, a court heard

Ms Millane’s body was found in a wooded area near Auckland a week after she was last seen at a hotel in Auckland city centre, a court heard

She added: ‘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.’

Mr Mansfield referred to a huge archive of text messages the woman had exchanged with the man after the alleged suffocation incident, in which she suggested continuing their relationship and told him: ‘I hope you still want me.’

The barrister suggested the man had simply kissed her when she stopped performing oral sex and that her version was invented.

Grace Millane, (left after graduation) vanished during the early hours of her 22nd birthday while on a round-the-world trip in New Zealand. Her body was later found inside a suitcase in the woods near the city

Grace Millane, (left after graduation) vanished during the early hours of her 22nd birthday while on a round-the-world trip in New Zealand. Her body was later found inside a suitcase in the woods near the city

Grace Millane, (left after graduation) vanished during the early hours of her 22nd birthday while on a round-the-world trip in New Zealand. Her body was later found inside a suitcase in the woods near the city 

‘Can I suggest to you that if anything as horrific as this had happened you wouldn’t have engaged in 708 message with him in the following days would you?’ said Mr Mansfield. ‘You could have just ghosted him.’

But the woman told the court: ‘I was scared of him. I didn’t want him showing up in my life. It doesn’t make sense to you but I did what I felt I had to do to feel safe.’

She said she had not told anyone about the incident until she was questioned by police five months later. ‘I was ashamed and embarrassed that I had put myself in a dangerous position,’ she added. 

The man denies murder. The trial continues.

Ms Millane's mother Gill sat alongside her father David in the public gallery today (pictured attending court last week), listening to the witness with her hand covering her face at times

Ms Millane's mother Gill sat alongside her father David in the public gallery today (pictured attending court last week), listening to the witness with her hand covering her face at times

Ms Millane’s mother Gill sat alongside her father David in the public gallery today (pictured attending court last week), listening to the witness with her hand covering her face at times

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