Tinder date of man accused of Grace Millane murder said she feared for her life during sex with him

‘This can‘t be the way that I die‘: Tearful woman tells court how Grace Millane‘s killer ‘suffocated her during sex after Tinder date months before he murdered British backpacker in New Zealand‘

A student told today how she fought for her life when the man accused of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane suffocated her as she had sex with him.  

She told the jury through tears: ‘I was terrified. I thought, ‘This can‘t be the way that I die‘.‘ 

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she had battled ‘with all my might‘, before deciding to feign unconsciousness in the hope the man would notice her desperation. 

But when he eventually released her, he acted as if nothing was wrong and told her: ‘You don‘t think I did that deliberately?‘ 

The witness told Auckland‘s High Court in New Zealand today that the defendant, 27, who also cannot be named, tried to meet up with her on the day Grace, 22, is alleged to have died.   

Wearing a dark suit and open necked white shirt, the defendant listened impassively in the dock to the woman giving evidence by video link. 

He is accused of strangling Grace, who was from Wickford, Essex, the night before her 22nd birthday during rough sex, but claims it was an accident after the backpacker asked him to choke her. 

The student, whose identity is protected, said she met the man through Tinder in March last year and shared one date before ceasing . 

But they reconnected in October and ended up in his Auckland apartment in early November, the same place where Grace would die just a month later. 

The man told her he wanted to change out of his suit following work and took her to the apartment at the CityLife hotel where he lived. 

After buying wine and beer, she said, they talked for several hours before the man kissed her and tried to lead her to the bed. 

‘He had been talking about how much he loved me and wanted to be with me,‘ she said. 

She refused sex as she was on her period but had agreed to give him oral sex, she told the court.   

The woman became unable to breathe when the 27-year-old put all his weight on her face, she told the jury today.

‘I couldn‘t breathe,‘ she said. ‘He sat down so that he wasn‘t supporting any of his body weight. 

‘He had grabbed my arms to I couldn‘t move them. ‘I started kicking to indicate I couldn‘t breathe. 

‘He just sat there, he didn‘t move at all. It was probably 30 or 40 seconds but I managed to get the tiniest little bit of air out of the corner of my mouth. 

‘I decided to lie completely still and he would realise something was wrong. My arms were flopping. 

‘I acted like I passed out and he still didn‘t get off. ‘There were so many thoughts running through my mind. I thought this can‘t be the way that I die. 

‘I started thinking about my family and my friends and, they can‘t read about this. I was just so scared and I had so much more….‘ 

Miss 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

The woman said only after another 30 or 40 seconds of kicking and struggling did the man get off her. 

‘Finally he just sat up. I was gasping and he just said to me, ‘Oh, what‘s wrong?‘ I said, ‘What do you mean what‘s wrong?‘ 

‘He said, accusing and quite cold: ‘You don‘t think I did that on purpose do you?‘ I think I was in disbelief and shock.

Miss Millane‘s mother Gill sat alongside her father David in the public gallery, listening to the witness with her hand covering her face at times. 

The student said she was fit and strong, a frequent gym- goer who played team sports three times a week, but was powerless against the defendant. 

When she said she was leaving the apartment at the CityLife hotel in central Auckland, she told the jury, the man claimed to be seriously, lying on the bed. 

‘He started going on about, ‘see, you don‘t like me, you don‘t want to be with me‘, just over and over again. 

She told him she was going to get an ambulance for him and left him lying on the bed. 

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The man ed her the next day, she said. ‘He was just in disbelief that I had left and hadn‘t stayed the night. 

Over the next month he regularly tried to meet her again, but she had avoided and lied about her movements, hoping he would lose interest. 

She was paranoid about how much she had told the defendant about her life and did not want to aggravate him by discussing the suffocation. 

But on December 1, the day he met Miss Millane, he was still trying to arrange another meeting. 

‘He was asking what I was up to and I said I was busy,‘ she told the jury. ‘He wanted me to come for dinner. I said of I can‘t, I‘m an hour out of Auckland, which is a lie.‘ 

The last message from him that day was at 5.15pm, she said, just half an hour before he met Miss Millane. 

Earlier another of the defendant‘s previous Tinder dates told jurors he ‘liked dominating women during sex because it made him feel superior and in control‘. 

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court the defendant liked ‘feet, dominating and strangulation‘. 

He had repeatedly asked her to meet up with her, but she said she didn‘t want to because: ‘It didn‘t feel comfortable meeting with some of things he wanted me to do.‘  

The witness said the alleged killer had talked about his sexual preferences and why he enjoyed them, adding:  ‘He said it was because it made him feel more superior and in control.‘

The woman said the man had been ing her on the weekend Grace vanished.

The court also heard from another woman the defendant went on a Tinder date with nine days before Grace vanished.  

The waitress, who also cannot be named for legal reasons, told jurors she had matched with the 27-year-old alleged killer in November 2018. 

She said: ‘We asked each other what we preferred during sex and so I did mention that I liked rough sex and also choking.

‘He did say that he liked rough sex as well but I don‘t remember if he said anything about choking.‘  

Questioned by prosecutor Brian Dickey, she said she had gone to man‘s apartment at the CityLife apartment at 7pm on November 22 to meet him for the first time.

She bought a bottle of rum and the man, who also cannot be named for legal reasons, met her in the lobby. 

‘It was a nice place,‘ she said. ‘We went up to his room and we started talking to each other. 

‘I had about four glasses of rum and coke and he drank about four bottles of Heineken. 

‘After he went to bathroom he kissed me and from there it went to the bed.‘ 

During sex, she said, ‘he did choke me a bit because that‘s a preference of mine, just one hand around my neck. 

‘It was fine, it was consensual. My breath was a bit restricted but it was something that gave me pleasure. 

‘It wasn‘t too hard that I gasping for air but it wasn‘t so soft that I wouldn‘t be able to feel it. It was the right pressure 

‘I didn‘t have to push him off me. He let me go when I reached…‘

The woman said after ordering in pizza and sharing it she had left the man asleep but tried to him again after realising she had left her glasses behind. 

But the alleged killer didn‘t return them and she didn‘t see him again until he walked into the bar where she worked on the night of December 1, this time with Grace, who he had also met through Tinder. 

‘He came in with a young lady and they walked across the bar to go to a table,‘ she told the court. 

‘I wasn‘t sure it was him until I saw the tattoo on his arm. ‘She looked European. She was wearing a black dress with shoulder length hair.‘ 

The woman served the couple drinks and as he was paying, the woman told him how frustrating it was not to have to her glasses. 

Three days later, having buried Grace in a suitcase in remote woodland, he dropped the glasses off at the bar. 

Under cross-examination, the woman said when she first spoke to police about the date, which she described as ‘just a hook-up‘, she had not mentioned the choking because she ‘just forgot‘. 

The man denies murder. The trial continues. 

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