Grace Millane murder trial: Court hears backpacker liked being choked during sex
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London - Backpacker Grace Millane browsed a fetish website an hour before meeting the Tinder date accused of murdering her, a court heard on Tuesday.
Miss Millane, who died on a gap year in New Zealand on the eve of her 22nd birthday, had researched how to practise choking safely, an ex-boyfriend said in a statement read to the Auckland High Court.
A 27-year-old man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, denies murdering Grace, claiming her death was an accident during rough sex in his apartment after they had met for their date in December last year.
He admits stuffing her body in a suitcase and burying it in a shallow grave in a wooded area outside Auckland, but said this was because he panicked.
Statements from police revealed that Miss Millane had memberships of several fetish websites and had been active on one of them an hour before meeting her killer outside a casino in the city.
Miss Millane’s sex life was revealed during evidence for the defence, when the statement from her ex-boyfriend was read out.
In it he told police how she had asked him to choke her during sex and had researched how to do so safely. He said: "Grace and I discussed keeping hands wide and on the side of the neck, never on the front. We would have a 'safe word' most of the time which we had discussed, something like 'turtle' or something ridiculous. Grace and I used a tapping practice, too. If Grace tapped me three times, then it would stop. Grace would tap out maybe one in four times.
"Grace and I were careful to discuss not only the physical but the psychological aspects to practising BDSM [bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism]."
In a statement from one of her female friends Grace was said to enjoy having her partner put his hands around her neck.
The friend told New Zealand police: "I can’t really remember the exact words used but it was something like that, said in a jokey way as we talked about sex with our partners. Grace referred to enjoying a bit of rough sex sometimes when you’re having one of those nights when you’re really, really, attracted to one another."
The court has already heard how the accused found Miss Millane dead on the floor of his apartment after an evening of drinking with her on a date. Medical evidence found she had died from pressure on the side of her neck.
Opening the defence case, barrister Ron Mansfield said: "All the evidence shows that Miss Millane was a loving, bright, intelligent young woman and she was.
"That is her reputation and that should be her reputation and her memory at the start of this trial and at the conclusion of it." He told the jury: "The fact that we need to discuss with you what she liked to do in the bedroom should have no impact on her reputation at all."
Referring to the defendant and Miss Millane, of Wickford, Essex, Mr Mansfield added: "If this couple engaged in consensual sexual activity, which included pressure being applied to her neck with her consent and that went wrong, that is not murder."
The defence lawyer said the accused man admits Grace died from pressure he placed on her neck, but expert evidence was consistent with his account that it was consensual, not violent.
The trial continues.