Backpacker's haunting final Tinder date 'hours before she was strangled'

British backpacker Grace Millane messaged her friend to say "I click with him so well" while on a date with the man who allegedly strangled her hours later, a court in New Zealand has heard.

Millane's friend, Ameena Ashcroft, said in a letter read to Auckland High Court on Thursday she "thought something was out of place" when she received messages on December 1, 2018, in which Millane admitted to wanting to "get smashed" with the man she met on Tinder.

The Crown has alleged that the man, who cannot be named due to a suppression order, murdered the young woman from Wickford, Essex, and shoved her body inside a suitcase before burying her in a forested area outside Auckland.

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

Backpacker Grace Millane ended her Tinder date arm in arm with the accused. Source: Auckland City Police

Security footage played for the jury showed Millane, who was on a round-the-world trip, visit a number of bars in the city centre with the accused 27-year-old where they drank alcohol.

They kissed repeatedly at the Bluestone Room before walking arm-in-arm a short distance into the lobby of the CityHigh hotel where the defendant was staying.

Millane was shown to follow the defendant out of the lift at 9.41pm.

It was the last time she was seen alive.

The pair can be seen kissing in The Bluestone Room. Source: Auckland City Police

Gillian Millane, the mother of the deceased woman, left the court in tears as detective Samuel Luker described a series of photographs found on the defendant's phone.

Those photographs taken in the early hours of December 2, 2018, showed intimate photos of a woman's body, the detective said, which the Crown has alleged were taken of Millane after her death.

The defendant, wearing a navy blue suit and black shirt, did not react as Gillian Millane walked out of the courtroom.

David Millane looked directly at the defendant as the detective confirmed pornography was looked at on the man's phone after his daughter's death.

Grace died either on or just before her 22nd birthday while backpacking in New Zealand. Source: AAP

But he cast his eyes down when he heard the defendant had searched online for "rigor mortis".

The data showed the man had used Google to browse websites for large duffel bags, suitcases and car hire.

The defendant's phone was also used to search for "flesh-eating birds" and "are there vultures in New Zealand?" days later, on December 5, 2018.

Records showed the defendant had searched online for "the hottest fire", "large bags near me" and "Waitakere Ranges" – where Millane's body was later found contorted inside a suitcase on December 9, 2018 – before going on another Tinder date later that day.

Her parents had wept in court as they heard that earrings and a small metal tag inscribed with the word "freedom" were also found inside the suitcase.

The trial continues and is expected to last five weeks.

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