A New Zealand jury on Friday found a man guilty of murder in the death of 22-year-old British backpacker Grace Millane. Millane died last December on her birthday after meeting the man through the dating app Tinder, going out for drinks with him, and then returning to his hotel apartment in central Auckland. Prosecutors said the man strangled Millane to death, while defense lawyers argued that the pair had been engaged in consensual erotic choking that went too far, the AP reports. But the jury didn’t buy the defense. After the three-week trial, they deliberated for about five hours on Friday afternoon before returning the guilty verdict. The name of the 27-year-old man is being kept secret for now by court order, a restriction that is sometimes imposed in the New Zealand judicial system.
The man will likely face a mandatory life sentence, which comes with a minimum 10-year non-parole period. After he killed her, the man stuffed Millane's body into a suitcase, drove to the Waitakere Ranges forest, and buried her in a shallow grave, where police found her body a week later. Prosecutors said the man took explicit photos of Millane after she died and used Google to search for "Waitakere Ranges" and "hottest fire" as he tried to figure out how to dispose of her body. Millane's death shocked many in New Zealand, which prides itself on welcoming tourists. ("Your daughter was supposed to be safe here," Prime Minister Jacinda Arden said in an emotional apology to Millane's family.)