A GAP year student who was travelling in New Zealand was strangled to death in a man’s apartment after the pair met on a dating app, a court heard.

Grace Millane from Wickford, was on a round-the-world trip when she arrived in New Zealand last November.

Basildon Standard:

Popular - Grace was on a round-the-world trip

Soon after her arrival, she went on a Tinder date with the man now accused of her murder. He cannot be named for legal reasons.

Prosecutors allege the 27-year-old defendant strangled Ms Millane during rough sexual intercourse at his apartment in the centre of the city.

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But the defence claims the death, on either December 1 or December 2, 2018, the date of Ms Millane’s 22nd birthday, was accidental.

Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey told the court: “Strangling someone to death with your hands isn’t inadvertent - all of the evidence points away from an accident”.

The court heard the defendant first told police that the pair met for a drink then parted ways, but later admitted they engaged in rough sex involving biting and hitting which finished on the floor.

However, he insisted he did not realise she had died and had a shower before going back to bed.

Mr McCoubrey quoted the defendant as saying: “I woke up the next day and saw that she was lying on the floor. I saw that she had blood coming from her nose.”

The prosecution claimed phone records showed the defendant had looked at online pornography a number o times after Ms Millane died and took seven intimate photographs of her body.

The records also allegedly showed he had searched online for “the hottest fire”, “large bags near me” and “Waitakere Ranges” - where her body was later found in the suitcase - before going on another Tinder date later that day.

He then hired a professional carpet cleaning device.

Mr McCoubrey added: “If something had gone wrong, or someone fell unconscious and it was an accident, you’d expect someone to call for emergency assistance.

“But the accused had plainly gone to some lengths to break any forensic links between him and Ms Millane.”

Security footage showed the accused bought the suitcase and later used a trolley to take it from his apartment to a hire car.

Ms Millane’s remains were found inside the suitcase in a shallow grave on December 9.

The trial continues and is expected to last five weeks.