Grace Millane trial: blood in hotel room likely backpacker's, court hears

Elias Hubbard
November 8, 2019

Prosecutors claimed the defendant brought Millane home then strangled her to death.

The defence claims her death was an accident during consensual sex.

A 27-year-old man, who has interim name suppression, with charged with murdering Millane in December last year as she was travelling the world as part of a year-long solo OE.

The Crown has alleged the defendant, who can not be named due to a suppression order, murdered the young woman from Wickford, Essex, and shoved her body inside a suitcase before burying her in a forested area outside Auckland.

Ms Millane, a marketing graduate from Wickford, Essex, had visited South America, including Chile, Patagonia and Peru, before she disappeared after arriving in New Zealand in November previous year.

Millane's body was found crammed into a suitcase and dumped in a shallow grave in Auckland's Waitakere Ranges a week later.

Defence counsel Ian Brookie said the defendant told police in an interview he encountered a small amount of blood on the apartment floor and, with various cleaning products, he went around the place trying to clean it up.

She added: 'The shape of the probable blood staining and the presence of blood on the floor provided strong support that clean up of blood had occurred in this area'.

Turlough Thomas-Stone, a DNA specialist, gave evidence that a statistical analysis of the blood samples showed they were produced by female DNA, and there was "extremely strong scientific support" that the blood was Millane's because the major profile component of the DNA matched Millane's.

Ms Crenfeldt couldn't determine how the blood had dripped but said it could been cast off from a body or fallen from a mop after being diluted with water.

The last known sighting of Grace Millane was at about 9.40pm when she was captured on CCTV entering CityLife hotel with the accused.

She also couldn't be specific about how much blood there was.

Dianne Crenfeldt, a forensic scientist for ESR New Zealand, on Friday told the court that chemical testing had been used on the accused's hotel room and evidence of blood was found on the foot of the bed, in footprints walking towards the bathroom and in small splatters on the fridge.

She said the results showed: "Somebody with blood on their feet moved around the room".

That was 30cm in diameter and a more defined circular shape, Crenfeldt said. (Supplied) CCTV footage captures Grace and the accused at Andy's Burger Bar at SkyCity.

Ms Crenfeldt said the cleaning of the carpet could have decomposed DNA evidence.

Luminol tests, she said, are used by police in suspected crime scenes because the tests are very sensitive and can detect a clean-up.

Tests also revealed the blood was "500,000 million times more likely" to belong to Ms Millane than anyone else. (AAP) Grace Millane's parents, David and Gillian Millan, arrived at court on Wednesday.

The court has heard no bucket was found when police searched the apartment.

Ms Crenfeldt replied: 'Everything I have seen is consistent with there being blood present and it being cleaned up'. The legal limit is 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres.

"I woke up the next day and saw that she was lying on the floor", the defendant was quoted as saying.

Under cross examination by Mr Brookie, the expert told the court no male DNA was found under Ms Millane's fingernails.

The trial continues on Monday and Justice Simon Moore reminded the jury not to engage with others about the case.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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