The man accused of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane left her dead body in a suitcase in his flat while he went on a Tinder date, a court has heard.
Ms Millane, 22, from Wickford in Essex, wasin New Zealand on a round-the-world triplast year when she was allegedly strangled by the 27-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, during rough sex at his apartment.
The pair had met on the dating application Tinder and gone out drinking together in Auckland city centre.
The suitcase containing her remains was found in a shallow grave in a forested area of the Waitakere ranges a week later on December 9.
Opening the case at Auckland High Court today, prosecutor Robin McCoubrey claimed that the defendant had “contorted her body” into a suitcase then gone on another Tinder date, seemingly “unconcerned by the dead body in his apartment”.
Mr McCoubrey said he had also carried out a number of incriminating internet searches in the moments after Ms Millane was killed, including “large bags near me”, “rigor mortis” and the mountainous area where she was discovered.
“It’s plain that Ms Millane is dead at that point,” said Mr McCoubrey. “What the defendant is trying to do is find a place to dispose of her body.”
The prosecution claimed that the defendant also took intimate pictures of her body and visited pornographic websites as she lay dead in his flat.
Mr McCoubrey said security footage later showed the defendant buying the suitcase in which Ms Millane’s body was found.
The defendant also hired a professional carpet cleaning device, the court heard.
“If something had gone wrong, or someone fell unconscious and it was an accident, you’d expect someone to call for emergency assistance,” Mr McCoubrey said.
“But he had plainly gone to some lengths to break any forensic links between him and Ms Millane.”
The graduate died from “pressure to the neck” and was found “in the foetal position” in the suitcase, with “bruises consistent with restraint” on her upper chest and upper inner arms, the court heard.
Mr McCoubrey said the defendant had initially lied to police that he and Ms Millane had “parted company” after going for a drink, but later admitted they had engaged in rough intercourse involving biting and hitting.
The accused allegedly told police he fell asleep in the shower afterwards, woke up and went back to bed not realising she was dead. He claims the death was accidental.
The prosecutor quoted the defendant as saying: “I woke up the next day and saw that she was lying on the floor. I saw that she had blood coming from her nose.”
Ian Brookie, the defending barrister, said Ms Millane “died as a result of what they consensually engaged in together” and happened during “an act designed to enhance her sexual pleasure” with Ms Millane’s “knowledge and encouragement”.
Ms Millane’s parents, David and Gillian, attended court for thefirst day of the trial, which is expected to last five weeks.
A statement from her father, read to the court, said “Gracie” was the youngest of three children and close to her family.
She had travelled to New Zealand from Peru as part of a year-long trip after finishing university.
“Only two people know what happened in that room, one of them can’t tell us, the other one hasn’t told the truth about what happened,” Mr McCoubrey said.
The trial continues.