Shattered mother of slain British backpacker's power message to killer

Jesse Kempson: Shattered mother of slain British backpacker Grace Millane strangled to death in New Zealand on a Tinder date breaks her silence with a powerful message to the cold-blooded killer and his horrific excuse

  • Mum of murdered backpacker speaks out 
  • Killer blamed ‘rough sex’ for the death  
  • READ MORE:  Killer’s sordid history

The mother of a British backpacker brutally murdered during what her killer claimed was ‘rough sex’ has revealed she never speaks the man’s name.

Grace Millane, 21, was strangled to death in Auckland, New Zealand, during December 2018 by Tinder date Jesse Shane Kempson, who hid her body in West Auckland’s forested Waitākere Ranges, where it lay undiscovered for eight days.

Kempson, who received a life sentence with a non-parole period of 17 years in 2020, said he strangled Grace in a CBD hotel while the pair were engaged in consensual ‘rough sex’. 

Grace’s mother Gillian Millane has told The Extraordinary Ordinary podcast that she has banished Kempson from her thoughts while agonisingly putting her shatter life back together.

‘I don’t think about him, I don’t care what happens to him,’ she said.

‘He came into our life and destroyed our family. I don’t care about his name, I don’t care about him.’ 

Grace Millane was 21 at the time of her death and was only staying in New Zealand for two weeks while backpacking

Gillian Millane (pictured left with husband David Millane) has opened up about the death of her backpacker daughter at the hands of a Tinder date in New Zealand

READ MORE: ‘So what’s it going to take to make this happen?’ How Grace Millane’s Tinder date killer bombarded the hesitant British backpacker with string of messages to persuade her to come out with him – before murdering her during sex 

Gillian described the trial as ‘horrendous’ and said she had to sit in a courtroom day after day ‘while they’re annihilating your daughter’. 

She said her daughter, who had only recently graduated from a course in marketing and advertising, had always dreamt of travelling to places like New Zealand. 

Grace was only spending two weeks in New Zealand after a six-week period in South America.

During an initial three-week trial of Kempson in 2019 Grace’s dad David Millane was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that spread to his brain with the condition claimed his life in November of the following year.

‘That was another disastrous Christmas and New Year,’ Gillian, who had survived a bout with breast cancer shortly before Grace’s murder.

Following the dual deaths Gillian told the podcast she was ‘in such a dark, lonely place and I pushed everybody away’.

Trying to find your path on this road of grief is a very difficult thing to do,’ she said.

‘You get to a point when you realise that you’re the only one that can get you out of there.’

Gillian is now heavily involved with charites such as White Ribbon that ‘raise awareness about the importance of respecting and protecting the rights and safety of individuals’.

Jesse Kempson received a lift sentence for the death of Grace Millane, who he strangled in an Auckland motel before hiding the body in bushland

Grace Millane, 21, was strangled to death in Auckland, New Zealand, during December 2018 by Tinder date Jesse Shane Kempson (pictured together), who hid her body in West Auckland’s forested Waitākere Ranges, where it lay undiscovered for eight days

‘I can say that my toes are always in the darkness and sometimes my feet and waist but my head is probably more in the sun now,’ she said.

In October 2020, Kempson was also convicted on eight charges relating to offending against a former partner.

The charges included sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, threatening to kill, assault with a weapon and male assaults female.

In November 2020, he was convicted on one charge of sexually violating another woman, another British tourist, in an unrelated incident.

Kempson received a total sentence of 11 years’ imprisonment over the new charges, to be served concurrently with his life sentence. 

‘You have no reason to convict me,’ Kempson yelled at trial judge Justice Geoffrey Venning from the dock after his sentence was finalised.

Grace’s mother Gillian Millane has told The Extraordinary Ordinary podcast that she has banished Kempson from her thoughts while agonisingly putting her shatter life back together. Pictured: Grace Millane  

‘I can’t wait for the Court of Appeal to overturn you, mate. You’re full of s***.’

The 31-year-old appealed his sentences last year but the case was dismissed by New Zealand’s Court of Appeal 

In March the judgment of Justice David Gendall was released and included the reasons for overturning the appeal. 

‘We find that neither of the individual sentences imposed contained any error, nor is the total cumulative sentence of 11 years’ imprisonment manifestly excessive,’ Justice Gendall ruled.

‘Both appeals against sentence are also dismissed.’

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 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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