British backpacker Grace Millane’s murderer named as Jesse Kempson, sexual violence trials revealed

The man who murdered British backpacker Grace Millane can now legally be named in New Zealand.

He is Jesse Shane Kempson.

And it can now be revealed Kempson faced two further trials for violent sexual offending against two other women.

The 28-year-old Auckland man’s identity was due to be revealed last Friday, but with just minutes before an 11am deadline, the Supreme Court decided to keep suppression in place until it could make a final determination.

Today, the top court ordered suppression to lapse.

The Millane family said in a statement to the BBC: “As a family we do not think about him or speak his name.”

Last week the Court of Appeal also dismissed Kempson’s appeal of his conviction and sentence for murdering Millane, whom he met on the dating app Tinder, in December 2018.

Suppression for the Aotea College alumnus was continued throughout last November’s high-profile murder trial in the High Court at Auckland, the guilty verdict and sentencing – the reasons for which were also suppressed until today.

His name was suppressed to protect his fair trial rights, the courts ruled, because of two sexual violence trials.

He has already been convicted and sentenced for those crimes against both women after judge-alone High Court trials were held in October and November this year under a shroud of secrecy.

His additional prison sentences will be served at the same time, alongside his life term for murdering Millane, which includes a non-parole period of 17 years.

Kempson will be 45 years old when he is first eligible for release in 2037.

He was charged with the new offences after Millane’s murder and police had talked to the two victims, both of whom have permanent name suppression.

His first court appearance on the charges in February 2019 was held in a closed courtroom, with only the lawyers involved in the case and the Herald – as the only attending media organisation – permitted to remain.

Kempson has continued to deny the allegations and is appealing his convictions from the two trials, which include nine total charges of rape, sexual violation, threatening to kill and assault.

His murder of Millane came after the young Essex woman travelled to New Zealand in November 2018 as part of a year-long solo OE.

Millane, a recently graduated university student, arrived in Auckland just days before she was murdered by Kempson.

She was last seen alive on CCTV entering CityLife Hotel with Kempson, where he rented a room, on December 1.

The former junior softball player denied murdering the backpacker on the eve of her 22nd birthday after the pair returned to his downtown Auckland apartment following a Tinder date.

His legal team has indicated they are seeking leave to appeal his murder conviction at the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal today dismissed his first challenge.

His trial lawyers, Ian Brookie and Ron Mansfield, had argued Millane’s death was accidental and occurred during erotic asphyxiation.

Kempson “freaked out”, Brookie said, before the killer buried Millane’s body in a shallow grave in the Waitākere Ranges.

He then lied to police in a desperate attempt to cover his tracks. Lying was a trait of Kempson’s described throughout his court proceedings.

In an attempt to conceal the truth, Kempson would sprinkle in elements of truth to his “labyrinth of storytelling and lies”, as Auckland’s Crown Solicitor Brian Dickey described.

Kempson told police he worked in sales for consulting firm Liquid Learning.

He also told officers he and his family were from Wellington. The Herald has confirmed he was born in the Wellington region in 1992 and grew up in Wainuiomata and Porirua.

Kempson’s parents split when he was just 3 and in 2013 he moved to Australia, seemingly developing an Australian twang in his accent. But it remains unclear exactly what Kempson did or where he may have worked in Australia.

He returned from Sydney in 2016 for what, he claimed, was to care for a sick grandmother in the Auckland suburb of Takanini.

Some of Kempson’s more outrageous lies included claiming to be a manager at an oil company, a law graduate, having gang connections, being an orphan, being the cousin of an All Black, and even that he was suffering from cancer.

Many of these falsehoods were picked apart during the nearly four-week-long murder trial, which caught the attention of global audience.

The jury, however, ultimately believed the case as told by the Crown prosecution team led by Dickey alongside Robin McCoubrey and Litia Tuiburelevu.

Dickey said Kempson strangled Millane to death in the hotel room and then took “trophy” photos of her lifeless body.

He “eroticised the death of British backpacker Grace Millane” because of his “morbid sexual interest”, he said.

Despite Kempson’s suppression order, many people in New Zealand already knew his name.

There were several breaches before and after the murder trial, largely by those on social media and in the United Kingdom press.

Domestic violence – do you need help?

If you’re in danger now:
• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don’t stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it’s not your fault. Violence is never okay.

Where to go for help or more information:

• Shine, free national helpline 9am-11pm every day – 0508 744 633
• Women’s Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 – 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and middle eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• It’s Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450

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