A woman who went on a Tinder date with the man accused of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane has said she feared for her life during their sexual encounter.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told a trial in Auckland how the suspect, a 27-year-old New Zealand man, sat on her unexpectedly, leaving her struggling to breathe.
She told the jury: “I was terrified. I thought, ‘This can’t be the way that I die.’”
The female student told the Auckland High Court she fought “with all my might” before pretending to be unconscious in the hope he would get off her.
She said when he finally released her, he acted like nothing was wrong, telling her: “You don’t think I did that deliberately?”
The defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of strangling Ms Millane, from Wickford, Essex, the night before her 22nd birthday, during rough sex. He denies murder and claims she asked him to choke her.
The student said she met the man on Tinder in March last year and went on one date. They reconnected in October last year and went to his apartment in Auckland the following month.
She said: “He had grabbed my forearms and put all the pressure on my arms so I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t move my arms.
“I started kicking, trying to indicate I couldn’t breathe. I was kicking violently. He would have felt me fighting. I was terrified.”
She said the ordeal lasted one or two minutes and that she was afraid her family and friends would learn of her death.
The student said she continued messaging the man afterwards for a number of months because she was afraid he would stalk her if she cut off contact.
“I didn’t want to aggravate him,” she told the court. “I was scared.”
She said the accused pressed her for a date on 1 December, but she made excuses and declined. His last message to her was half an hour before he first met Ms Millane.
The next morning, 2 December, he messaged her again, between making Google searches on his phone for “rigor mortis” and “waitakere ranges”. The Waitakere Ranges region is where Ms Millane’s body was later found.
The backpacker was on a round-the-world trip when she disappeared on 2 December.
Her body was found inside a suitcase buried in bushland to the west of Auckland a week later.
The murder trial is expected to last for four weeks and is scheduled to conclude in early December.