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British backpacker Grace Millane was strangled by Jesse Kempson, a New Zealand man she had met on Tinder.
After Kempson murdered inside a hotel in Auckland, she carried out more acts of illness.

As Ms Millane’s lifeless body lay in the room, Kempson turned on his laptop and watched violent pornographic movies.

Warning: the following story contains details that may be distressing to some readers

Grace Millane, 22, was strangled by the man she met on a Tinder date.  The defense claimed that her death was an accident during consensual sex.
Grace Millane, 22, was strangled by the man she met on a Tinder date. The defense claimed that her death was an accident during consensual sex. (Supplied)

He took trophy photographs of Ms. Millane’s corpse.

Using her phone, she reconnected to Tinder and made a date with another woman.

Kempson caught up with that Tinder date for a drink while Ms. Millane’s body was back at the hotel.

That date later described that Ms. Millane’s killer had a disturbing personality, which had triggered her instincts to escape.

In court, he tried to claim that it was a sex game gone wrong; that Ms Millane, 22, had died during rough sex.

But the jury disagreed and his legal tactic failed.

However, it doesn’t always work that way.

And when a man kills a woman, tough sexual defense becomes more common.

Lawyers and domestic violence groups are increasingly concerned about this legal phenomenon, also known as ‘the defense of 50 shades’, a nod to the popular erotic fiction novels that portrayed and popularized the world of BDSM through a romantic lens tinted rose.

A good defense team that handles tough sexual defense can demote murder charges to involuntary manslaughter and shorten the terms of probation.

The rise in violent pornography in the past decade, particularly films involving strangulation, suffocation, slapping, and rough treatment of women, has also had a marked impact, according to researchers.

“What is called suffocation in pornography, we would normally call it strangulation,” said Dr. Meagan Tyler, a professor at RMIT University and a researcher in feminist theory and gender inequality.

Jesse Shane Kempson was sentenced to 17 years in prison for murdering Grace Millane.
Jesse Shane Kempson was sentenced to 17 years in prison for murdering Grace Millane. (Things / Lawrence Smith)
Jesse Shane Kempson in various court appearances, including after being first charged with murdering Grace Millane.
Jesse Shane Kempson in various court appearances, including after being first charged with murdering Grace Millane. (Things / Lawrence Smith)
One of the last images of Grace Millane taken entering the CityLife Hotel with her killer the night she was killed.
One of the last images of Grace Millane taken entering the CityLife Hotel with her killer the night she was killed. (Supplied)

Dr. Tyler has been researching trends in pornography for the past 15 years.

Porn has gotten more extreme, he said, and the powerful algorithms on the world’s largest porn platforms are ruthlessly efficient at promoting this type of content.

By 2010, the strangulation of women in pornographic films had become a serious and lucrative niche.

“You saw a kind of rush to create more and more extreme porn, with the rise of what is called Gonzo porn,” Dr. Tyler said.

That made it easier to integrate what could have been one more niche, Dr. Tyler said.

“Violent content became much more standard, just normal porn content,” he explained.

“And that usually involved things like slapping, hitting, tying.

“Things that could have been seen as a BDSM fetish were much more integrated into normal porn.”

Dr. Tyler’s in-depth studies in this area revealed that strangulation had become “normal, very normalized” in everyday heterosexual relationships, particularly among younger people.

During the murder trial of Grace Millane’s killer, it emerged that Kempson had a way for rough sex and had left previous sexual partners alarmed and sometimes scared.

A woman spoke of Kempson drowning her.

A second woman told the jury that she liked domination and strangulation and how she tried to meet her again on December 3 and 4, just days after she killed Grace.

Fortunately, she never agreed.

Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey asked the jury to give it some careful thought.

“It is extraordinary to meet another woman after having killed another woman by strangling her, that can be scary,” he said.

A third woman who testified at the trial claimed that she feared for her life during a sexual encounter with the murderer, during which she nearly suffocated.

Gillian Millane holds up a family photograph during her televised victim impact statement from her home in the UK.  The 28-year-old was convicted of the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane, whose body was found in a bush in the Waitakere Ranges in West Auckland on December 9, 2018. It took the Auckland High Court jurors a few four hours to convict him in November 2019.
Gillian Millane holds up a family photograph during her televised victim impact statement from her home in the UK. The 28-year-old was convicted of the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane, whose body was found in a bush in the Waitakere Ranges in West Auckland on December 9, 2018. It took the Auckland High Court jurors a few four hours to convict him in November 2019. (Getty)
Flowers were placed outside the City Life hotel in Auckland's financial district after Grace's death.
Flowers were placed outside the City Life hotel in Auckland’s financial district after Grace’s death. (Things / Abigail Dougherty)

Louise Perry, a spokesperson for the UK-based campaign group We Can’t Consent To This, said her organization had noticed that more and more men like Millane’s killer and their legal teams were pressing the defense of 50 Shades in court.

“We see juries becoming more understanding of defendants who make this type of defense,” Perry said.

She believed that the tactic was related to the fact that jurors were not receiving adequate education from lawyers, judges and lawyers, and also to a change in the cultural climate.

Due to the 50 Shades of Gray books and misogynistic pornography, she said that people have become more and more familiar with BDSM.

“But they don’t necessarily have a very good idea of ​​how it really works in practice,” he said.

“We found, for example, that people seem very willing to believe that it is easy to accidentally strangle someone to death … that it is something that could easily happen and that it is part of totally innocent sex game, you know, the sex issue went wrong.

“But we know from medical experts that strangling someone to death is difficult and time consuming, requires a lot of force.

“It’s not something one would reasonably expect someone to accidentally do.”

At least 60 women in the UK have been killed in episodes of so-called “consensual” sexual violence since 1972, and at least 18 women have died in the last five years, according to We Can’t Consent To This.

In 45 percent of those murders, claims that a woman’s injuries were sustained during sex play “gone wrong” resulted in a lesser charge, a lighter sentence, an acquittal or death not being investigated, he said. Perry.

Forensic scientists said the luminol showed there were “probable” blood stains in the apartment where Grace Millane died. (Supplied)
A suitcase found in the apartment of the man who murdered Grace Millane. (Supplied)

Like Dr. Tyler, Ms. Perry says that the disturbing violence that is now common in the porn industry is a major concern for the safety of women.

“A generation ago, the interest in erotic asphyxia was really a niche,” he said.

“Now it seems like it’s almost assumed that this is something standard that you would expect from a sexual partner.”

Strangulation is inherently violent, even if it doesn’t kill anyone, he said.

Strangling a woman sets off alarms from police and domestic violence groups, as the act serves as a strong indicator of possible homicide.

“Statistically, we know that it is a great danger to predict an escalation of violence … it is a very, very serious form of abuse,” he said.

We cannot consent to this.We have been collecting data on national and international cases where rough sex or sadomasochism appears in murder cases since the 1970s.

Until 2010, the group claimed that it was relatively rare to see a legal defense using the claim that the sex game went wrong.

Since then, they have identified an increase of at least 90 percent in cases where rough sex has been part of the defense strategy in court.

They calculate at least 67 cases in which the defense has been used, exclusively by men.

Grace’s killer now exposed as a Tinder rapist

Kempson had a history of violence and faced eight counts of physical and sexual violence against his girlfriend.

He raped his other victim after she refused to have sex with him, eight months before he killed Ms. Millane.

Readers seeking support can contact the National Domestic Violence Service: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732). If you are in immediate danger, call Triple Zero (000).

Readers seeking support and information on suicide prevention can contact Lifeline at 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue at 1300 224636.


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