The father of the British backpacker Grace Millane states that his daughter was "in a good mood" and would write messages to her family almost every day while traveling around the world during her sabbatical year.
The 21-year-old marketing graduate visited parts of South America, including Chile, Patagonia and Peru, before disappearing shortly after arriving in New Zealand in November last year, said David Millane.
The evidence was read at the Auckland High Court on Wednesday, where a 27-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons is now on trial for the murder of Mrs. Millane.
"We had news from Grace practically every day … she liked to share her adventures with us," recalled Millane in evidence read by Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey.
He was also in constant contact with his two brothers on social media, he said, but those messages suddenly stopped on December 1st, the day before his 22nd birthday.
"The last message he sent to his family before he disappeared was a photograph of a Christmas tree at SkyCity, an Auckland hotel and casino," Millane said.
HOURS OF THE COURT NEXT TO THE EVENTS
The court heard that Ms. Millane arrived in Auckland on November 30th and that day she connected with the defendant on the Tinder dating app.
The next day, the couple met at SkyCity and spent the evening together before returning to the CityLife Hotel in Auckland.
CCTV cameras showed Ms. Millane and the accused were "definitely at ease, simply having fun," said McCoubrey.
The video also showed the two of them kissing before entering the apartment of the defendant at around 9.40 pm on December 1st.
Ms. Millane's body was later found in a bush section just 10 meters from Scenic Drive in Waitakere Ranges, West Auckland, on December 9th.
A post-mortem examination later revealed that she died from pressure on the neck.
"I DON'T KNOW THAT GRACE WAS GIVEN"
Millane said that her daughter was a nice young girl who agreed with young and old, but was also cautious.
"She was an expert on people in general and didn't trust people too much, but she wasn't too shy," he said.
He had had two serious boyfriends before embarking on his travels, but Mr. Millane said he didn't know he was going out online during the summer.
"I didn't know in particular that Grace came out online … I don't think children tell their parents everything, nor should they, necessarily," he said.
CLAIMS OF LAWYER DEATH WAS ACCIDENTAL
The defendant pleaded not guilty of killing Ms. Millane.
He admits that he is with her when she died and eliminated his body, but he claims that he did not intentionally hurt the young British man.
He says the couple was drunk and had increasingly violent sex the night Ms. Millane died. Then he claims he fell asleep in the shower and woke up finding her on the floor with blood coming from his nose, the New Zealand Herald reported.
His lawyer Ian Brookie said it was a simple case of an accident involving a young couple who had engaged in consensual sexual activity with the sole purpose of pleasure.
"The defense states that this was not a murder … these actions were part of the sexual activities they were doing together and were in no way intended to hurt her," he said.
"It was an accident … it happened during a normal casual sexual encounter between a young couple who met on Tinder."
The Crown claims that the defendant not only killed Ms. Millane, but then "coldly and methodically" eliminated her body in a shallow pit and cleaned up the scene, doing her best to "break any link" between he and his victim.
An examination of his phone showed that he was using the Google search from 1.29 December 2nd. He searched for the Waitakere Ranges and the "hottest fire" and then watched a porn video.
Later he allegedly took seven intimate photos of Mrs. Millane.
– With the New Zealand Herald