Grace Millane's killer 'attempted to blame her for her own death'

British backpacker Grace Millane’s murderer attempted to blame HER for her own death ’21 TIMES’ during a ‘self-serving police interview’, linguistic expert claims

  • Jesse Kempson, 28, strangled Miss Millane, 21, in his apartment in Auckland 
  • Kempson and backpacker Grace, from Essex, met on Tinder in December 2018
  • The murderer is serving a 17-year minimum sentence for Grace’s death 

British backpacker Grace Millane’s killer attempted to blame her for her own death ’21 times’ during a ‘self-serving police interview’, according to a linguistic expert. 

Jesse Kempson, 28, strangled Miss Millane, 21, in his studio apartment in Auckland, New Zealand, after the pair met on dating app Tinder in December 2018, eight months after raping another Briton, and a year after subjecting his girlfriend to sexual assault and abuse.

But in newly analysed footage of Kempson’s police interviews, it appears the murderer – who is serving a 17-year minimum sentence for Grace’s death – attempted to shift the blame onto his victim. 

In scenes filmed for brand-new true crime documentary The Murder Of Grace Millane: A Faking It Special, available on discovery+, linguistic expert Dawn Archer highlights a staggering 21 examples where Kempson tries to shift the blame off of himself and onto Grace.

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British backpacker Grace Millane’s killer attempted to blame her for her own death ’21 times’ during a ‘self-serving police interview’ (pictured), according to a linguistic expert

Jesse Kempson, 28, strangled Miss Millane (pictured), 21, in his studio apartment in Auckland, New Zealand, after the pair met on dating app Tinder in December 2018, eight months after raping another Briton, and a year after subjecting his girlfriend to sexual assault and abuse

In one of his police interviews, Kempson claimed that Grace, the daughter of a successful property developer from Wickford, Essex, had died accidentally as a result of rough sex gone wrong.

Analysing the interview, Ms Archer said: ‘I’m calling it the blame shifting strategy, and I’ve found 21 examples.’

‘I would describe it as making Grace the acting initiator. So, she’s the one doing the asking and he’s the one doing the responding.’ 

As Dawn explained, this becomes more significant when Kempson begins to describe how Grace died. 

‘”And then she told me to hold her throat.” Now that is how she died, and we are told here that it was her idea. These are examples of a strategy rather than an accidental thing, because it’s happening 21 times.

But in newly analysed footage of Kempson’s police interviews, it appears the murderer – who is serving a 17-year minimum sentence for Grace’s death – attempted to shift the blame onto his victim. Pictured, linguistic expert Dawn Archer

In scenes filmed for brand-new true crime documentary The Murder Of Grace Millane: A Faking It Special, available on discovery+, linguistic expert Dawn Archer highlights a staggering 21 examples where Kempson (pictured right) tries to shift the blame off of himself and onto Grace

‘What he’s wanting the police officer to believe is that this was rough sex gone wrong and the person who initiated the sex to become as rough as it was, was Grace and not Jesse Kempson. It makes him less culpable.’

In November 2018, Grace arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, for a two week stay, after spending a spectacular six weeks backpacking in South America. 

It was meant to be the trip of a lifetime – but on December 2, when Grace failed to contact her family and reply to birthday messages, a missing person’s report was filed. 

It later emerged that Grace had died in the company of a Tinder date, then 26-year-old Kempson, who claimed she had passed away during consensual sex. 

But as CCTV footage showed, Kempson had tried to cover his tracks by transporting Grace’s body in a suitcase and burying her in a shallow grave. 


In one of his police interviews, Kempson claimed that Grace (pictured), the daughter of a successful property developer from Wickford, Essex, had died accidentally as a result of rough sex gone wrong 

From the start of his first police interviews, there were clear signs of deception, according to body language expert Dr Cliff Lansley.

He said Kempson gave off a trio of reliable indicators of dishonesty when quizzed by police. 

‘As soon as the word Grace is mentioned, he starts to tense up. We see this little tweak under the table of the legs coming together and squeezing his hands in between his thighs.’ he said. 

Kempson also apparently displayed classic signs of anxiety, suggesting fear that his lies were about to be exposed. 

‘The tension is reinforced by him now taking a sip of water. When we get anxious, our mouth goes dry. Often, we’ll swallow or lick the lips or take a sip of water when we hit an anxiety point,’ said the expert. 

In November 2019, Jesse Kempson was tried and convicted for the murder of Grace Millane and sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum of 17 years. Pictured: Kempson at New Zealand’s High Court in November 2019

‘With the combination of dry mouth, hands under the table, clamping the legs, we’ve got three indicators that suggest anxiety and fear. This could be the fear of being caught in a lie.’

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.

Another indicator of deception in Kempson’s initial interview was his lack of ability to add detail, and the three-second pause he leaves before answering the officer’s questions on how the date with Grace went. 

‘We’ve got a huge hesitation; this is a disfluency. He’s having to think hard about the question that would be simple for a truth teller but would be difficult for a lie teller,’ Cliff said. ‘He can’t give detail about the evening, so the officer is on to him.’ 

Ms Archer added that features in Kempson’s speech further underlined his lies, such as a drop in volume. 

‘If you’ve had a really nice evening, you don’t need to pause for three seconds and then say ‘mmm yeah, pretty good,’ she suggested. ‘His volume drops significantly at that point. 

‘So, we’ve had a stress indicator through the voice quality and now we have a distance indicator through the volume drop.’ 

Kempson’s story soon unravelled and police also gathered more evidence against him, including further CCTV footage and blood stains in Kempson’s apartment.

Soon after, officers opened a homicide investigation, charging Kempson with Grace’s murder. 

Quickly, Kempson’s story changed. ‘He had two days to sweat and think about what was coming. And then, from my perspective, he gave a self-serving interview,’ Detective Inspector Scott Beard recalled.

Kempson revealed his story of how he had strangled Grace and how he had attempted to shake her awake the morning after discovering that she had died.

As Cliff pointed out, features in Kempson’s behaviour suggested anger rather than panic, further indicating that his story of how Grace died was fabricated. 

‘What he’s mimicking with his gestures and his upper lip is violent anger. So, the upper lip is tightened, the upper margin of his lip has rolled inwards into the mouth. This is anger,’ said the expert. 

‘He seems to be reliving that moment not only cognitively but emotionally, and it’s oozing out of his pours and it’s almost like it’s a replay of the moment. A violent, angry episode, not a sad, desperate, fearful episode.’ 

Serial sex attacker Kempson murdered Grace on the night of December 2, 2018 – the day before her 22nd birthday.

The pair had met in Auckland and gone for drinks before Kempson took her back to a hotel where he was living and strangled her to death during sex.

He then took shocking photos of her dead body, watched pornography, and then went on another date before bundling Grace’s body into a suitcase which he buried in a shallow grave in woodlands. 

In November 2019, Jesse Kempson was tried and convicted for the murder of Grace Millane and sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum of 17 years.

The Murder Of Grace Millane: A Faking It Special is available to stream now exclusively on discovery+

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