Killed backpacker’s messages on BDSM site

 

Warning: The Grace Millane murder trial is hearing evidence of a graphic and sexual nature.

The defence has now closed its case in the trial of the man accused of murdering Grace Millane, with the jury now having heard all of the evidence, the New Zealand Herald reports.

The case of the man accused of murdering the British backpacker on the night of December 1 last year in Auckland, New Zealand, is now into its third week.

RELATED: Friends of Millane give evidence of BDSM interests

The 27-year-old man, whose name is suppressed, is accused of strangling Millane to death in his hotel room after meeting the 21-year-old on Tinder.

The defence said the death was accidental and occurred during consensual sex.

'NAIVE AND TRUSTING' IN ONLINE SEX COMMUNITY

In a statement of agreed facts, the court was told of some material which had been extracted from Millane's laptop by a computer forensic expert.

Three chats were recovered from the BDSM online app Whiplr, which Millane was a member of.

The messages from the chats, which totalled 412 in August and September 2017, were between Millane and two unidentified men.

Grace Millane was killed while on a Tinder date in New Zealand.
Grace Millane was killed while on a Tinder date in New Zealand.

Some of the messages appeared to propose a casual sexual encounter, the court heard.

There is no evidence Millane met with the second man. However there is evidence she met with the first male on September 2.

Millane, who said she was new to the practice at the time, also talked of role play and discussed her desire to be fully restrained and blindfolded.

The messages were some of 72,000 individual messages found on Millane's computer, the court heard.

A user of the app Whiplr, an online BDSM community, had his police statement read to the court.

He said he connected with Millane on the app and the pair exchanged messages and photos.

In one messaging platform, he said Millane used her full name and outlined her interest in BDSM and other forms of kinky sex.

"Most people use the apps in a discreet manner," he said.

Millane, he said, appeared to be "at an explorative stage and quite open to suggestions" but was "quite open to it and wanted to try it".

"I felt like Grace was more naive and trusting in the BDSM area. The users could be any undesirable person online, and Grace had a naivety."

 

Millane with the 27-year-old man accused of murdering her.
Millane with the 27-year-old man accused of murdering her.

 

The court heard Millane had last accessed Whiplr at 3.43am on December 1.

The man, who lives in London, first saw Millane was reported missing in a BBC broadcast.

Richard Middleton, a private investigator hired by the accused's legal team, has also given evidence.

He said FetLife, which Millane was a member on, was "quite explicit".

Middleton, a retired detective inspector, told the court he went to the UK - in an attempt to ask Millane's friends to testify for the defence.

But he said witnesses outside New Zealand cannot be summonsed to court and, instead, those who knew Millane have had their statements read to the court.

MILLANE MET WITH OTHER MAN NIGHT BEFORE

A man who spent the night of November 30 last year with Millane has given evidence to the court for the defence.

The following day - December 1 - Millane met the accused.

The man, who has name suppression, said he had met Millane at the Base Backpackers where she was staying in Auckland.

He recalled being attracted to the "outgoing" Millane who talked of future travels to Fiji.

The pair, he told the court, began messaging each other on Facebook about meeting up socially, before returning to the man's apartment in downtown Auckland on the evening of November 30.

The man said the two went back to his place to watch a film.

"We started kissing during the film," he said, which led to the couple having sex.

During this, he said he placed a hand "potentially on her neck" but "can't remember 100 per cent".

The man said this was "common".

"I usually do it," he said.

"Because girls usually enjoy it."

Millane was active in online BDSM communities.
Millane was active in online BDSM communities.

During cross-examination, Crown Solicitor Brian Dickey asked if sex between the pair was rough.

"If I called it vanilla would you agree?" Dickey said.

"Yes," the man replied.

When re-examined by defence lawyer Ron Mansfield he asked the man if he knew by December 10 what had happened to Millane.

"I knew she had died, yes," the man said, who had volunteered to speak to police about his night with the backpacker.

SEX 'IMPORTANT' FOR YOUNGER GENERATIONS

A British expert in sexual culture told the court that attitudes towards sex have changed drastically in the past three decades.

Professor Clarissa Smith, from the University of Sunderland, testified for the defence in the High Court at Auckland this morning.

Under cross-examination by Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey, Smith said some people will practise erotic asphyxiation "to the point of unconsciousness".

She said some high-profile cases of celebrities engaging in erotic asphyxiation have increased its popularity.

However, while safety should be of primary concern during erotic asphyxiation, "in the heat of the moment that might not happen".

"Sometimes the desire for something might override [safety concerns]," Smith said.

She added that when alcohol or drugs were involved "safety may not be someone's first priority".

Erotic asphyxiation, which the court has heard Millane practised, heightened the sensations of the person being asphyxiated during sex, Smith said.

FetLife, an online BDSM community which Millane was a member of, has about eight million users worldwide, she added.

Smith, whose studies have included taboo media, sexually explicit media, sexuality and sexual ethics said attitudes towards sex have drastically changed in the past three decades.

"It's not just reserved for maybe one's life partner or maybe marriage," she said.

"There are also expectations that one's sex and sexuality may change over one's lifespan as well."

Smith said people now talked about sex as entertainment and it is "an incredibly important part of youth cultures".

"Sex has became an incredibly important part of everyday life," she said of younger people.

This article originally appeared on the NZ Herald and is republished with permission.


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