Grace Millane Court: blood in a hotel room is probably a tourist, the court hears

Forensic scientists have given evidence at the murder trial of Grace Millane in Auckland’s high court, and said the blood found in the accused’s hotel room most likely came from the British backpacker.

Millane, 21, was on a round-the-world trip when she disappeared on 2 December in New Zealand’s largest city during a date.

Her body was found buried inside a suitcase in dense bushland west of the city a week later. A 27-year-old New Zealand man, whose name has been suppressed by the court, is accused of her murder. He has pleaded not guilty.

Dianne Crenfeldt, a forensic scientist for ESR New Zealand, on Friday told the court that chemical testing had been used on the accused’s hotel room and evidence of blood was found on the foot of the bed, in footprints walking towards the bathroom and in small splatters on the fridge.

She added: “The shape of the probable blood staining and the presence of blood on the floor provided strong support that clean up of blood had occurred in this area.”

The footprints clearly showed someone had walked in blood with their left foot, the scientist said, and “transferred … blood around the room”.

Thomas-Stone, a DNA specialist, gave evidence that a statistical analysis of the blood samples showed they were produced by female DNA, and there was “extremely strong scientific support” that the blood was Millane’s because the major profile component of the DNA matched hers.

There is no argument from either the prosecution or defence that Millane died in the hotel room on 1 or 2 December 2018.

However, the crown alleges the accused murdered Millane and then attempted to conceal his crime by burying her body, while the defence says she died while engaged in a consensual sex act, and that the accused then made a number of poor decisions following her death, due to the stress of the event.

Millane died from pressure to her throat and was transported in a suitcase in a hired car to a shallow grave in the Waitakere ranges.

ESR forensic toxicologist Diana Kappatos said she was unable to give an accurate finding for Millane’s blood-alcohol level at the time of the death.

Millane had been dead for over a week before an autopsy was performed.

No drugs were found in Millane’s system, Kappatos said conclusively.

The trial continues and will run until early December.