Tinder date who strangled British backpacker Grace Millane is finally named


Jesse Kempson, 28, is appealing his conviction and life sentence for strangling Ms Millane during ‘rough sex’ on December 1, 2018 

The Tinder date who murdered British backpacker Grace Millane can finally be named after suppression orders were lifted.

Jesse Shane Kempson, 28, was allowed to keep his name secret throughout the court proceedings over the 2018 killing of the 21-year-old student as his defence counsel argued naming him would prevent him getting a fair trial.

Even after his conviction in November 2019, his sentencing in February 2020, and his appeal being denied on Friday, journalists and the public could be arrested for identifying him.

But his efforts to keep his identity concealed ended on Tuesday when his appeal to the Supreme Court failed. 

It can also now be revealed Kempson was also convicted of raping another woman in a motel room just months before he met Ms Millane.

He was also convicted of sexually violating and seriously assaulting a former girlfriend in October.

This is the first time he has been publicly named in New Zealand, though British and Australian publications named him throughout the case.

British backpacker Grace Millane's (pictured) was strangled to death after meeting her killer via Tinder on December 1, 2018 – the day before her 22nd birthday

British backpacker Grace Millane, left, was strangled to death after meeting her killer via Tinder on December 1, 2018 – the day before her 22nd birthday

Kempson was sentenced to life behind bars with a non-parole period of 17 years for murdering Grace in his Auckland apartment in December 2018

Kempson was sentenced to life behind bars with a non-parole period of 17 years for murdering Grace in his Auckland apartment in December 2018

Shocking pictures played to the jury reveal the moment police discovered the body of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane dumped in this muddy hole in the ground

Shocking pictures played to the jury reveal the moment police discovered the body of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane dumped in this muddy hole in the ground

Just as he did with Grace, burly Kempson lured the rape victim, then 21, into a drunken Tinder date before taking her back to his motel room.

Furious at her refusal to have sex after he had bought her drinks, dinner and, he told her, ‘treated her like a princess’, Kempson raped her while she lay on the bed crying and frozen with fear.

She kept the 2018 attack secret until she recognised Kempson from media coverage the day he was charged with Grace’s murder that December and went straight to police.

In a statement read to the court at his sentencing, the victim said for a long time she had woken up ‘crying and screaming’ with flashbacks and nightmares, terrified that Kempson would track her down.

‘Every time I went to sleep, I’d see your eyes popping out of your head, staring at me in anger,’ she said.

Vowing never to say Kempson’s name aloud, she said she had had to check her front door was locked three times every night, but with support from counsellors and her partner had recovered. 

Jesse Shane Kempson appears in the dock on February 21, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand

Jesse Shane Kempson appears in the dock on February 21, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand

Kempson, who watched on from a video link to his jail while his family sat in the courtroom, still maintains his innocence on the murder charge

Kempson, who watched on from a video link to his jail while his family sat in the courtroom, still maintains his innocence on the murder charge

During the rape trial, the victim said she had told no one about the assault until she saw Kempson named on British newspaper websites on the day he first appeared in court and then, standing among her work colleagues, found his picture on Facebook.

‘I went into a state of shock,’ she said, giving evidence via a video link. ‘I got scared. I recognised his photo. It was one of the ones he had used on his Tinder profile.’

Encouraged by her boss, she went to police that day. ‘I just wanted to help in some way,’ she said, ‘so that the police should know he was not a good person.’

The victim said she had arrived in New Zealand to visit her family just a few weeks before connecting with Kempson on Tinder.

Kempson had avoided the rape and eight further charges of sexual and other violence against a former girlfriend being heard as part of his murder trial.

Instead, in two separate trials, he chose to be tried by judges sitting without juries but was convicted each time. 

Victim Grace Millane

Victim Grace Millane

He was convicted of murdering Ms Millane (pictured, left and right) by strangling her in a hotel in Auckland after meeting her via Tinder on December 1, 2018 – the day before her 22nd birthday

In the other trial, he was convicted of terrorising his live-in girlfriend over a period of months.

He subjected her to violent assaults, threatened her with a butcher’s knife and forced her into humiliating sex acts after telling her he had been sent by the CIA to kill her.

Kempson has now been sentenced to a total of 11 years jail for the two recent trials, to be served concurrently with the 17 year minimum sentence for Grace’s murder, but plans to appeal against both new convictions.

Details of the two new cases and their links to Grace Millane’s death can only be reported now after Kempson failed in a bid to overturn his murder conviction and sentence at New Zealand’s Court of Appeal.

In sentencing, Justice Simon Moore told the murderer his actions amounted to ‘conduct that underscores a lack of empathy and sense of self-entitlement and objectification’. 

Kempson attempted to appeal his sentence but that bid was rejected by the Court of Appeal in a decision released on Friday

Kempson attempted to appeal his sentence but that bid was rejected by the Court of Appeal in a decision released on Friday

Ms Millane’s killer played for an amateur softball team in Auckland. He told would-be sexual partners that his cousin was a rugby star for the All Blacks and that he was suffering cancer

Pictures of the bedroom where Kempson throttled Ms Millane during what he claimed was a sex game that went wrong

Pictures of the bedroom where Kempson throttled Ms Millane during what he claimed was a sex game that went wrong 

Kempson was sentenced to life behind bars with a non-parole period of 17 years for murdering Grace in his Auckland apartment in December 2018.

The graduate of England’s University of Lincoln was strangled to death by Kempson, who she had met on Tinder, on the night before her 22nd birthday.

Kempson took photos of her body after her death. She was later found in a suitcase buried in a forested area outside the city. 

He claimed Grace, who was from Wickford in Essex, died accidentally after the pair engaged in rough sex that went too far.

A jury in November 2019 rejected that argument and found the man guilty. 

Kempson attempted to appeal his sentence but that bid was rejected by the Court of Appeal in a decision released on Friday.

The judges upheld that saying: ‘Ms Millane was particularly vulnerable, being intoxicated, in a strange apartment, naked, in the arms of a comparative stranger with whom she thought she could trust, and with his hands around her throat’.

Ms Millane’s father David Millane, 62, died last month after a battle with cancer, New Zealand Police said at the time.

On Friday the force issued a statement from the Millane family, who said they were ‘pleased at the outcome that has been reached’ in the loss of the appeal.

The family thanked the police, judges, prosecutors and the people of New Zealand.

Grace pictured in April 2017

Grace is pictured here in September 2016, in front of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge

Left, Grace in April 2017. Right, Adventure-loving Grace is pictured here in September 2016, in front of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge

Parents of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane, Dave and Gillian speak to the media outside the High Court, in Auckland, New Zealand last November

Parents of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane, Dave and Gillian speak to the media outside the High Court, in Auckland, New Zealand last November 

They added: ‘Grace was a kind, fun-loving daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, aunty, cousin and friend with her whole life ahead of her.

‘She was enjoying the first of what would have been a lifetime of adventures before her life was so cruelly and brutally cut short by her murderer.

‘Her sense of fun, her sense of adventure, her love of travel and exploring, along with her ability to light up any room she walked into it with her generosity of spirit, are memories we as a family cherish and how we will forever remember her.

‘Although the focus will inevitably be on the outcome of today’s legal process, as a family our hearts and our love will always be with our beautiful Grace.

‘Grace, you are, and will always be, our sunshine.’

Grace’s final hours on the Tinder date that led to her death:

December 1, 2018

5.45pm: Grace Millane was shown arriving in front of the casino’s 20 foot tall Christmas tree, where she stood waiting for her date. She sends a picture of the tree to her parents in Essex. He arrives and they hug.

6pm: The two of them walk into the casino and find Andy’s Burger Bar. He and Grace were seen ordering drinks and finding a table.

7.12pm: The couple left the burger bar and cross the road into the Mexican cafe where they spend the next hour until the defendant came to pay the bill with her standing beside him.

8.27pm: The pair were filmed in the distance crossing Albert Street and moving ever closer to the killer’s home. They headed into the Bluestone Room where the accused had earlier been drinking beer alone. They kiss.

9.41pm: CCTV shows the couple entering the hotel where the killer was living. They enter the lift and head to the killer’s apartment. In the hours that followed she was brutally murdered, possibly in the early hours of December 2, her birthday.

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