Blood found in accused killer's flat 500 million times more likely to belong to Grace Millane than anyone else

Giovanni Torre
The blood stains had been cleaned, but the team uncovered them using luminol, Auckland City Police said - PA

The trial of Grace Millane's accused killer heard DNA evidence today that blood found on his refrigerator is 500 million times more likely to have come from Ms Millane than anyone else.

Ms Millane, from Wickford, Essex, arrived in New Zealand on November 30 and disappeared after going on a date with the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, the following night. Her body was found buried in a suitcase in the Waitakere Ranges on December 9.

Scientists found two areas of blood staining on the carpet in the apartment of the 27-year-old suspect. Despite the accused's efforts to clean up, the forensics team were able to detect blood using luminol, which showed blood had been moved around the apartment.

DNA expert Turlough Thomas-Stone told the court that while "no male DNA was detected" in samples taken from the Ms Millane’s fingernails and from the suitcase in which her body was found, the "damp, moisture, exposure to the elements" can make it harder to identify DNA samples from grave sites, especially given the time between Ms Millane’s death and the discovery of her body seven to eight days later.

Toxicologist Diana Kappatos told the court that there were no illicit or prescribed drugs in Ms Millane's body.

A friend of Ms Millane, Ameena Ashcroft, who received text messages from her the night she disappeared, sent a letter which was read in court, stating she “thought something was out of place” as she read the messages.

The defence has argued that the accused, who went on another date the next day while Ms Millane's body was hidden in his apartment, accidentally killed the 21-year-old backpacker.

The woman who attended the second date is yet to testify at the trial, but on Wednesday, in his opening address to the jury, Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey foreshadowed her evidence, saying the accused told the woman he knew someone who went to jail after a woman died during "rough sex" - which the Crown described as the accused testing his story.

Grace Millane, 22, was killed in New Zealand in December 2018 Credit: Lucie Blackman Trust/PA

Justice Simon Moore is presiding over the jury trial in Auckland, which resumes on Monday and is expected to last three more weeks.

A recent study by Georgetown University's Institute for Women, Peace and Security in the United States ranked New Zealand 18th in the world in terms of women's peace and security, one of the worst rankings in the developed world.

The low ranking was due almost entirely to New Zealand's rates of intimate partner violence. The country scored particularly badly on intimate partner violence and community safety.

At the National Council of Women conference in Auckland in late last year, former Prime Minister Helen Clark said the government needed to recognise that violence against women was “a national crisis”.

Dr Jasmina Brankovich, an Australian consultant who runs programs addressing sexual harassment and gendered violence, told The Telegraph that early and intensive intervention is needed through the education system to change culture and reduce the incidence of violence against women.

“You need to start very early with a system in education - prevention is better than responding. We are going to have to change a lot of attitudes that run deep… Empty rhetoric changes nothing. If you want to change anything in the future, you have to take action now,” she said.