A man accused of murdering a British backpacker told police he struggled to put her body in a
Grace Millane was traveling in New Zealand when she died on the night before her 22 nd birthday.
The defendant claimed he panicked after finding her not breathing and put her body in a suitcase which he buried in a shallow grave in woods near Auckland.
He denies murdering Ms Millane, who was from Wickford in Essex.
Prosecutors have told Auckland High Court the 27 – year-old defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, strangled Ms Millane on 1 December
But his defense team claim the death was an accident during consensual sex.
In a police interview played to the jury, the defendant said the pair engaged in rough sex which he claimed was initiated by Ms Millane.
The man told police he had a shower and fell asleep before waking up the next day to find Ms Millane with “blood coming from her nose”.
“I was very scared and called out to her and tried to move her to see if she was awake, “he said.
After discovering she was not breathing, the defendant said he “panicked” and went out to buy a suitcase and cleaning products before trying to hide her body.
“I remember putting Grace in the suitcase, I was just in shock, I couldn’t put her in it, it didn’t seem right, it didn’t seem right,” he said.
The defendant said he left Ms Millane “half in half out of the suitcase” in his Auckland hotel room while he went to buy bleach and then again when he went on a Tinder date.
He said: ” Then I put her in the bag and was I was saying ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’ and then I went downstairs and got the porter thing (trolley) and I put the suitcase on top of it with another suitcase and I took it downstairs and put it in the hire car. “
The man told officers he went out early on 3 December and buried the suitcase in a shallow grave in woodland outside the city.
He claimed he had attempted to take his own life by taking an overdose after discovering Ms Millane’s body and again when he buried her.
“I was in shock, I didn’t know what to do, “he said.
In his first police interview, the defendant said the pair had drinks and then went home separately af ter their Tinder date.
Asked in the second interview by his own lawyer why he was changing his story, he said he wanted Ms Millane’s family to have closure and to know “it wasn’t intentional”.
Following the interview he was arrested and took officers to Ms Millane’s body.
The trial continues.