NZ’s worst-kept secret: Jesse Kempson finally unmasked as Grace Millane’s killer as secret trials revealed

It was called New Zealand’s worst-kept secret, but after more than two years Jesse Shane Kempson has finally been named as the man who murdered British backpacker Grace Millane.

Yesterday, it was also revealed Kempson faced two other trials this year for sexual violence against two women after the high-profile murder.

He was found guilty of all nine total charges at both trials, including rape, which he is now appealing.

The 28-year-old has also already signalled an appeal to the Supreme Court, which declined a final application for leave to maintain suppression, in a bid to overturn his murder conviction.

After killing Millane on the eve of her 22nd birthday, Kempson became the man with the blurred face on our televisions as his identity had remained suppressed since December 2018 for fair trial reasons.

His judge-alone trials in October and November were held under a shroud of secrecy.

Ultimately, he was convicted and given further prison sentences, which will be served concurrently 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.

After Millane’s death, police closed in on Kempson as the prime suspect.

As detectives investigated him and searched their files, they found an earlier complaint by another woman, who had been in a relationship with him, and a corresponding protection order.

“I was Grace’s voice and I will be Grace’s voice,” she would later tell a court.

A third woman, a Brit like Millane, was also interviewed by police about a violent Tinder rendezvous she had with Kempson.

She came forward after seeing Kempson’s identity publicised by international media as the man accused of killing Millane. She instantly recognised him as the man who had raped her in an Auckland motel and when presented with a photo ID montage – positively identified Kempson.

Both women have permanent name suppression.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard, the officer in charge of the investigation into Kempson, said police are expecting more women to come forward and report alleged violence at the hands of the killer now his name has been published.

“After he was arrested more than a dozen women came forward, and there were others we identified through our investigations,” he told the Herald.

Millane’s mother Gillian has also been supporting other women who have come forward, encouraging them to report what happened to them and get the help they need.

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

Police laid Kempson’s additional charges, including rape, sexual violation, threatening to kill and assault, against him in February 2019.

But before Kempson’s murder trial began in November last year, the courts had ruled he would maintain suppression until after all his trials had been determined.

Last week and a day before the Court of Appeal dismissed Kempson’s appeal of his murder conviction and sentence, a hearing was held to determine when he would finally be named.

Court of Appeal president Justice Kos said “it is time now for a dose of reality”.

“This all occurred more than two years ago. Mr Kempson has been convicted at all three trials and no longer enjoys the presumption of innocence. In the ordinary way, there is a genuine and proper public interest in his identity being disclosed.”

Much about Kempson’s life, however, remains muddied because of his labyrinth of lies and embellishments.

Those who have known him have told the Herald about fanciful claims.

Some of Kempson’s more outrageous lies included being 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 a global audience.

When he met the travelling Millane on Tinder in December 2018, the lies continued as did his campaign of misinformation after strangling her to death in his downtown Auckland apartment following a night of drinking.

He lied to police in a desperate attempt to cover his tracks after dumping Millane’s body in a shallow grave in the Waitākere Ranges.

Kempson’s trial lawyers, Ian Brookie and Ron Mansfield, argued Millane’s death was accidental and occurred during erotic asphyxiation. The killer has continued to maintain this claim.

His internet history, however, revealed much of what he did at about the time and after Millane died. He searched for methods of how to dispose of her body, looked at pornography online, and took intimate photos of her naked body.

He also later went on another date while Millane’s body remained in his downtown Auckland hotel apartment.

He “eroticised” Millane’s death because of his “morbid sexual interest”, Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey told jurors.

At the time he murdered Millane, Kempson told police he worked in sales for consulting firm Liquid Learning. The Herald has also confirmed he was born in the Wellington region in December 1991 and grew up in Wainuiomata and Porirua.

Kempson’s parents split when he was just 3 and he spent several years living in Australia.

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

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.

One person sitting in the public gallery at his first court appearance brazenly posted a photo from the hearing on their Facebook page.

The blatant breaches, including by Google in a mass email to Kiwi users, caught the ire of then Justice Minister Andrew Little and the Bar Association, and have led to debate about the effectiveness of New Zealand’s suppression laws in the internet age.

Source: Read Full Article