Grace Millane killer appeals against conviction

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Millane Family

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Grace Millane was last seen alive on the eve of her 22nd birthday in Auckland, New Zealand

The man who killed British backpacker Grace Millane in New Zealand has begun an appeal against his murder conviction and sentence.

The 28-year-old, who cannot be named, was jailed for at least 17 years after a jury found him guilty of murdering Ms Millane in an Auckland hotel in 2018.

After her death he hid her body in a suitcase and buried her in bushland.

His appeal is based around elements of the trial process as well as the length of the minimum non-parole period.

At his trial last year, the killer claimed Ms Millane, who was last seen on the night before her 22nd birthday, had died accidentally, after the pair engaged in rough sex that went too far.

But a jury in November rejected that argument and found him guilty of murder.

New Zealand media outlet Stuff said the appeal was based around how much emphasis was placed on the element of consent, expert evidence, probability, and the negative evidence given by other women about his character.

Ms Millane, from Wickford, Essex, met her killer on dating app Tinder while travelling in Auckland in December 2018.

The trial heard the pair spent the evening drinking before returning to the man’s room in the CityLife hotel in central Auckland where he killed her.

He then disposed of her body by burying it in a suitcase in the Waitākere Ranges, a mountainous area outside the city.

After he was sentenced in February, Ms Millane’s mother Gillian told the killer she was “absolutely heartbroken that you have taken my daughter’s future and robbed us of so many memories that we were going to create”.

Defence lawyer Rachael Reed QC reportedly told the appeal hearing: “I do not in any way seek to condone or excuse his actions after Miss Millane’s death. I cannot and will not do so – they are inexcusable.”

But according to the New Zealand Herald, she argued the jury should have had more direction around consent issues and “more balanced” direction on the expert evidence, and said the sentence was “manifestly unjust”.

Crown prosecutors said the appeal grounds around consent instructions were “flimsy” and the sentence was not manifestly excessive, the Herald reported.

The appeal court has reserved its decision.

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The killer’s identity is suppressed under New Zealand law

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