Desperate to clean up, the accused tried to remove Grace’s blood from the bedroom carpet, jurors were told. But tests revealed traces at the flat in Auckland, New Zealand, where the 22-year-old British backpacker died. Blood found on the fridge was almost certainly from Grace rather than anyone else, the court heard.
The 27-year-old defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of strangling Grace during what he claims was a “rough sex” session at his flat in December last year. He later stuffed her body in a suitcase and dumped it in a shallow grave in hills west of Auckland, it is claimed. The defendant denies murder and insists Grace died by accident during the consensual love making, which involved hitting, biting and choking.
Grace’s parents David and Gillian, of Wickford, Essex, were in Auckland High Court as forensic expert Dianne Crenfeldt said she found two roughly circular blood stains on the carpet between the bed and the wardrobe.
Tests using the chemical luminol showed traces of blood as well as the presence of cleaning fluids, she said.
Luminol also revealed how someone with blood on their feet had walked around the room, said Ms Crenfeldt. “Everything I have seen is consistent with there being blood present and it being cleaned up,” she told the jury.
She added: “There was blood visible on the underside of the carpet, on the underlay and on the concrete.”
Turlough Thomas-Stone, a DNA expert, said the blood on the fridge was 500 billion times more likely to be Grace’s than from anyone else.
Tests for male DNA on the victim’s fingernails and the suitcase where her body was found proved negative, he told the jury. The suitcase, with Grace twisted in a “foetal position”, was discovered in the Waitakere Ranges outside Auckland a week after she was reported missing.
The University of Lincoln graduate arrived in New Zealand during a round-the-world trip on November 30 last year.
She met the defendant on December 1 – the day before her 22nd birthday – through dating app Tinder and spent four hours visiting bars. She texted a friend to say she wanted to “get smashed”.
They walked arm-in-arm into the CityLife Hotel where he was living and she was last seen alive around 9.40pm as they got out of a lift to walk to his flat. The trial continues.