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Grace Millane suspect tells police he left her after date, but he actually took her to his hotel

Jurors in the trial of the suspect accused of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane watched her alleged killer lying to police in his first interview, a court heard today.

Video footage of the 27-year-old under questioning by police was played to Auckland High Court in New Zealand. 

He was quizzed five days after his Tinder date with university graduate Grace, whose naked body he had buried in a suitcase in the woods after she died during sex. 

But the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told Detective Ewen Settle the couple had said goodbye to each other on the street after a two-hour drinking session in a restaurant at the SkyCity casino. 

'We drunk a lot of cocktails at the burger bar and we were having good conversations,' he told the officer, saying the date had been 'pretty good'. 

Grace, he said, had invited him to join her to celebrate her 22nd birthday the next day at the backpackers hostel where she was staying. 

The defendant (pictured during his first police interview) told officers he and Grace Millane parted ways after their date when they actually went back to hos apartment 

Grace'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 told me she was staying at the party backpackers, which the The Base,' he said. 

'She's going that way and I'm going across the street,' the man said, insisting he was heading to meet a work colleague on Auckland's waterfront after the Saturday night date. 

He chose an unusual route, he said, because 'it's a lot safer than walking down the backstreets'. 

In fact, the court has heard, the man and Grace carried on drinking at two more bars before entering his building at the £190 a week apartment at CityLife hotel on central Auckland's main thoroughfare, Queen Street. 

The suspect, who at the time of his first interview was not under arrest or officially a suspect, had been driven to the central police station after officers found him walking on the street outside CityLife and ran after him, catching up to him inside a shop. 

Dressed in a white business shirt and black waistcoat, the man said he and Grace had met through Tinder and she had sent the message, saying simply 'hey'. 

After graduating from Lincoln University with a degree in advertising and marketing, Grace was six weeks into a world tour. 

They arranged to meet outside a 'winter wonderland' display, the man told DS Settle. 

After drinking cocktails, the defendant and Grace went into a casino and then to Andy's Burger Bar (the pair pictured walking together) 

A video of the alleged killer's interview with police was played to jurors at Auckland High Court in New Zealand today

The Millanes: (L-R) father David, brother Michael, mother Gillian, brother Declan and Grace, who died in Auckland, New Zealand in December last year 

'I gave her a hug and she gave me a hug,' he said. 'And then we decided that we were going up to Andy's Burger Bar which is on the first floor.'

The man said Grace told him she was looking for casual bartending jobs as she travelled around New Zealand before returning home to Wickford in Essex in June the next year.

He said he had offered to help her find work on the sales team for the company where he worked.

Earlier in court, a detective told how she had identified the accused as a person of interest after spotting a message he had posted on Grace's Facebook page. 

At 9.29pm on December 1, just 11 minutes before leaving a bar and heading to CityLife, the man had written: 'Beautiful, very radiant' under Grace's updated profile picture.

Detective Diana Levinzon told how she had sent the man a message saying police were looking for Grace and asking him to contact her. He rang her the next morning, said Det Levinzon.

He said that he had been with Miss Millane on the Saturday evening. He had come across her on Tinder and the last time he saw her was at 10pm. 

Another Detective, Jason Han, rang the man and arranged to meet at that morning. In a half hour conversation, DC Han told the court, the man had given them a different address, his previous home. 

DC Han said the man told them they had shared six or seven cocktails and left SkyCity about 8pm before separating when he went to the waterfront alone. 

The jury heard the man agreed to have photographs taken and said he would be free after work to give a formal statement at 4pm. 

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 

Grace Millane (pictured on her graduation day from the University of Lincoln) 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 

In fact, the court heard, he was spotted by another officer, Det Toni Jordan, outside CityLife at 2.20pm. 

Det Jordan said police had found the address on their intelligence system but did not expect to see him there. 

She said the man was pointed out to her by hotel staff and had caught her eye. She and a colleague ran after him and found him in a shop at the end of the road. He agreed to come to the police station, she said. 

'The defendant said something along the lines of he wanted to get this all sorted', said Det Jordan. 

The trial has already heard that two days later, in a second interview, the man said Grace had died after asking him to choke to her during sex. 

But he said he was unaware she was lying dead on his hotel floor as he had fallen asleep in the shower and did not see her body until the next morning.    

Earlier in proceedings forensic pathologist Dr Simon Stables said a deep internal bruise on the 22-year-old's neck and others on her chest and arms suggest she was pinned down with considerable force. 

He told jurors at Auckland's High Court her alleged killer's claims that she died during consensual 'rough' sex were the first of their kind he had come across in New Zealand. 

Dr Stables said: 'From my point of view it is incredibly rare. I have never heard of another case.... in New Zealand.'  

He rejected the idea the injury was a 'love bite', as claimed by the defendant's legal team.  

The defendant says Grace, from Wickford, Essex, died accidentally after she asked him to choke her during a Tinder date at his apartment last December.

Dr Simons gave cause of death as 'pressure to the neck', explaining it would need to be sustained with immense pressure for four to five minutes. 

Forensic pathologist Dr Simon Stables demonstrates how he claims Grace, of Wickford, Essex, was strangled 

Dr Stables said a deep internal bruise on the 22-year-old's neck and others on her chest and arms suggest she was pinned down with considerable force

He rejected the idea the injury was a 'love bite', as claimed by the defendant's legal team

Dr Simons gave cause of death as 'pressure to the neck', explaining it would need to be sustained with immense pressure for four to five minutes

He said: 'It's not going to happen with a gentle touch,' he told the jury. 'It's got to be with some force. It takes quite a bit of effort.'

The bruise was deep inside the neck, he added, and invisible on the surface, suggesting it happened at the time of death.

Other, blue bruises on her torso, he said, were 'consistent with some level of restraint.'

Rejecting the love bite claim by the defendant's barrister Ian Brookie, he replied: 'It doesn't resemble one I've seen in my experience. 

But he did agree that some of the bruising on her arms could be the result of 'consensual but physical sex'.

Watched by Grace's tearful mother and father in the public gallery, Dr Stables showed Auckland High Court a series of photographs from a post mortem he carried out in December last hear after her body was found crammed into a suitcase buried in dense woodland.

Despite the effects of a week of decomposition before her body was found by tracking the accused's mobile phone, he had no doubt about the bruise, about six centimetres by three below the lefty side of Grace's jaw, being caused before death.

'I think it is not a post mortem change, it is a real injury,' he said.

Dr Stables said that obstructing the blood flow or the airways in the neck to cause death by cutting oxygen to the brain would require between two and five kilograms of pressure.

And he added: 'A 22-year-old woman with no medical history, I wouldn't expect to bruise easily.'

Mr Brookie told Dr Stables the defence would not challenge the finding of death by manual strangulation but would suggest alcohol had played a part after Grace and the accused had spent the evening drinking cocktails and tequila shots in a number of bars.

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

Dr Stables had told prosecutor Brian Dickey that alcohol can 'sensitise the heart', but he said results of a toxicology test showing levels in Grace's blood of twice the legal driving limit were meaningless because of the effects of decomposition.

Earlier one of the defendant's previous Tinder dates told the court he was a 'lying sociopath' and claimed he told her had cancer.    

The defendant 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. 

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

Giving evidence, the woman, whose identity is protected, 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. 

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

'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 an All Blacks player was his cousin and had invited him to watch New Zealand's last game with the team's wives and girlfriends, she said.

The parents of Grace Millane, David and Gillian, arrive at the Auckland High Court last week 

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.

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.

'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 jury will continue watching the video interview when the trial resumes tomorrow. 

The defendant denies murder and claims Grace's death was accidental. 

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