New Zealand man appeals conviction for murder of British backpacker Grace Millane

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Traveller Grace Millane was killed in New Zealand - Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images
Traveller Grace Millane was killed in New Zealand – Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

A New Zealand man found guilty of murdering a British backpacker appealed his conviction and punishment on Thursday, with his new lawyer arguing he did not get a fair trial and his sentence was too harsh.

A jury had earlier determined that tourist Grace Millane was strangled to death on her 22nd birthday in December 2018 by a man she had met through the dating app Tinder.

She went out for drinks with him before returning to his hotel apartment in central Auckland, where he killed her. He stuffed her body into a suitcase, drove to a forest and buried it in a shallow grave, where police found it a week later.

Prosecutors argued in the trial that the man deliberately strangled Ms Millane to death, while defence lawyers claimed the death was accidental after the pair engaged in consensual erotic choking that went too far.

The jury found the man guilty and a judge sentenced him to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.

Lawyer Rachael Reed told the Court of Appeal judges that she was not seeking to excuse the man’s “abhorrent” actions after Ms Millane’s death, according to news organisation Stuff. But she said the judge placed too much weight on those actions in determining the man’s sentence.

Ms Reed also said the conviction had problems, including questions around the issue of consent, some of the expert evidence, and negative evidence given by other women about the man’s character.

The name of the 28-year-old man convicted of murder is being kept secret for now by court order, a restriction that is sometimes imposed in the New Zealand judicial system for reasons such as another pending trial.

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