The jury found the man guilty and a judge sentenced him to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.
Lawyer Rachael Reed told the Court of Appeal judges that she wasn’t seeking to excuse the man’s “abhorent” actions after Millane’s death, according to news outlet Stuff. But she said the judge placed too much weight on those actions in determining the man’s sentence.
Reed also said the conviction had problems.
Those were how much emphasis was placed on the element of consent, expert evidence, probability, and the negative evidence given by other women about the man’s character, Stuff reported.
Reed said no person could consent to their own death, but the jury should have considered whether Millane consented to the application of pressure to her neck and whether her client exceeded the bounds of her consent.
“Did he have time to realise [consent] had occurred prior to her death and if he did, did he maintain an honest belief in consent at that time?
“Consent shouldn’t be removed just because someone has died,” she said.
Justice Stephen Kos said the implication of the argument Reed was making was “grave”.
Essentially Reed was saying that someone who chose not to give evidence at trial, as Grace’s killer did, could then advance consent as a justification for death, Justice Kos said.
“I for one resist your proposition.”
Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey said the killer deserved his minimum 17-year sentence.
“A woman can’t be more exposed at that point in which she’s engaging in sexual relations, she was particularly vulnerable,” McCoubrey said.
“You’re involved in the most intimate activity … the last thing on your mind is that you’re about to be murdered by your sexual partner.”
Kos, Justice Patricia Courtney and Justice Mark Cooper have reserved their decision, Stuff reported.
The name of the 28-year-old man convicted of murder is being kept secret for now by court order, a restriction that is sometimes imposed in the New Zealand judicial system for reasons such as another pending trial.