Jesse Kempson: Grace Millane killer pretended he was CIA assassin and dying of cancer to lure, rape and terrorise women

THE brute who murdered Brit backpacker Grace Millane was a serial fantasist who pretended he was a CIA spy and dying of cancer to target women.

Jesse Kempson, 28, can now be named after a court order banning his identification was lifted as he lost an appeal against his conviction and sentence over Grace's killing in New Zealand.

He strangled the 21 year old in his studio apartment after the pair met on Tinder in December 2018, before burying her body in a shallow grave on the outskirts of Auckland.

It has also been revealed Kempson raped another Brit tourist eight months before killing Grace and had sexually assaulted his girlfriend in a sickening ordeal lasting months.

After his identity was revealed, details of his bizarre lifestyle started to emerge – including claims he was a twisted liar who told women he was a globe-trotting spy.

And during his murder trial, the court was told of a delusional narcissist who had regularly targeted women and girls with his falsehoods.

It was revealed he lied “frequently and repeatedly” to Grace and other women he met online.

In the past he claimed to be dying from cancer, be the cousin of a famous All Black rugby star, have gang connections and posed as a playboy on Tinder.

He even boasted of plans to buy a glamorous restaurant on Auckland's waterfront.

However, time and again, Kempson’s bogus world caught up with him, as he was kicked out of a succession of shared flats and lost jobs as a barman and sales assistant.

His last job – in telephone sales -ended in dismissal on the very day he met Grace after his non-stop lying was exposed.

 “Jesse had targets set for him and he met them by writing fake invoices and calling his own phone,”revealed one former colleague.

“He was forever going missing, then trying to claim commission on made up jobs.”

Just weeks before Grace’s murder, the impact he was having on others did appear to dawn on Kempson, and he offered what he said were “sincere apologies” on Facebook.

“I've made a lot of bad decisions in my life so far that I’m not proud of some of which have greatly affected others," he wrote.

"My clear arrogance and selfishness has truly affected the relationship I have with people in my personal life.”

He then claimed he had recently been diagnosed with severe anxiety for which he was taking medication.

Kempson added: “Putting all that aside, I’ve just want anyone who I’ve hurt/let down to know I’m truely (sic) sorry from the bottom of my heart.”

At the time, he was living at the CityLife hotel in central Auckland, where he had boasted to his landlord that he was a top manager for Woolworths but, in reality, his rent was paid by state benefits.

The landlord later told reporters he had been on the verge of confronting Kempson when Grace was murdered.

“He appeared to have been a pick-up artist,” he said, “It seems like that was his full time job, like it was all he did.”

Even some of those in Kempson's family branded him a pathetic fantasist.

A stepbrother told New Zealand’s One News he was a “pathological liar” who “lies over pointless things and continues to lie until the point where he's got no out…and then he breaks downs and cries and runs away."

But his ludicrous lies were far from harmless.

Another trial heard how he subjected a girlfriend to violent assaults, threatened her with a butcher's knife and forced her into humiliating sex acts after telling her he had been sent by the CIA to kill her. 

Kempson has also been described as "creepy" and obsessed with girls, by one former softball team mate.

Speaking to Daily Mail Australia on condition of anonymity, the man said:"He was creepy towards girls. His life revolved around girls, taking to girls.

"He was always trying to get with younger girls… he was very quiet around the boys."

It's been reported the killer turned to Tinder and weaved fantastic tales of wealth and success to lure girls to motels or his £190-a-week studio apartment. 

Earlier it was revealed Kempson raped another tourist eight months before killing Grace, whose body he buried in a shallow grave.

Just as he did with Grace, he lured the victim, then 21, into a drunken Tinder date before taking her back to his room.

He also sexually assaulted his girlfriend the previous year in a sickening ordeal lasting months.

The shocking details could not previously be revealed because he was on trial for those crimes, with his identity kept secret over fears that linking him with Grace's murder could prejudice jurors.

But both trials – which took place in October and November this year – have concluded with guilty verdicts.

As a result, Kempson has been sentenced to an additional 11 years to run concurrently with the 17-year minimum he was given for Grace's murder.

In a statement, Grace's family said: “As a family we do not think about him or speak his name."

Backpacker Grace, from Essex, went missing on December 1, 2018 and failed to contact her family on her 22nd birthday the following day while in Auckland, as part of a planned year-long trip abroad.


She was last seen alive entering a hotel with Kempson on the evening of December 1.

On December 9, her body was found in a wooded area about 30ft from the side of the road in the Waitakere Ranges near Auckland.

She died after meeting Kempson through the dating app Tinder, going out for drinks, and then returning to his hotel apartment in central Auckland.

He was caged for life with a non-parole period of 17 years for murdering Grace in his Auckland apartment in December, 2018.

Eight months earlier, Jesse Kempson attacked a rape victim, then 21, on a Tinder date.

Furious at her refusal to have sex after he had bought her drinks and dinner Kempson raped her while she lay on the bed.

She kept the 2018 attack secret until she recognised Kempson, now 28, from media coverage the day he was charged with Grace’s murder and went straight to police.

Kempson was convicted of the rape in November.

In a statement read to the court at his sentencing, the victim said for a long time she had woken up “crying and screaming” with flashbacks and nightmares, terrified that Kempson would track her down.

“Every time I went to sleep, I’d see your eyes popping out of your head, staring at me in anger, " she said.

“I am not scared,” she said. “I am strong. I am not alone. I am loved. I have so much to look forward to in my life and I will not look back. "You don't have any power over me any more.”

In another trial, Kempson was convicted in October of terrorising his live-in girlfriend over a period of months.

He subjected her to violent assaults, threatened her with a butcher’s knife and forced her into humiliating sex acts after telling her he had been sent by the CIA to kill her.

Details of the cases and their links to Grace's death can only be reported after Kempson failed in a bid to overturn his murder conviction and sentence at New Zealand’s Court of Appeal.

Their ruling on Friday, and a final decision from the Supreme Court today, allowed New Zealand media to finally reveal Kempson’s identity.

Grace's family said not naming Kempson had "allowed people to remember Grace – a young, vibrant girl who set out to see the world, instead of the man who took her life".

They told the BBC: "To use his name shows we care and gives him the notoriety he seeks.

"We instead choose to speak Grace's name."


Justice Geoffrey Venning had found Kempson guilty of the rape, prompting an outburst from the dock.

“You have no reason to convict me. You’re full of s**t mate,” raged Kempson, a salesman who had become obsessed with online dating and told women, colleagues and friends a never-ending stream of bizarre lies to boost his ego or attract sympathy.

At his sentencing last month, Justice Venning said it was clear Kempson did not accept his offending and told him: “You have no remorse or insight into it.”

Kempson has now been sentenced to a total of 11 years jail for the two recent trials, to be served concurrently with the 17 year minimum sentence for Grace’s murder, but plans to appeal against both new convictions.

Details of the two new cases and their links to Grace Millane’s death can only be reported now after Kempson failed in a bid to overturn his murder conviction and sentence at New Zealand’s Court of Appeal.

Kempson’s identity was finally revealed more than two years after Grace died in the twisted killer’s hotel room the night before her 22nd birthday.

He had taken shocking photographs of her dead body, watched hard core porn and went on another Tinder date before bundling Lincoln University graduate Grace into a suitcase and burying her in a shallow grave in woodland outside Auckland.

At his trial last year, his lawyers argued that Grace whose dad David died of cancer last month, had a long-standing fetish for erotic asphyxiation, had encouraged him to choke her during consensual sex and had died accidentally.

In August, at his appeal hearing, his barrister Rachael Reed admitted his actions after Grace died had been “inexcusable” but said the jury, who took just five hours to deliver a unanimous guilty verdict, had not been directed properly on the consent issue by Judge Simon Moore.

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