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Grace Millane: Blood sample in murder accused’s flat is likely to be hers, court told | UK News

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Blood found in the apartment where British backpacker Grace Millane was murdered was 500,000 million times more likely to belong to her than anyone else, a New Zealand court has heard.

The university graduate, from Wickford, Essex, had been on a date with a 27-year-old man she met in Auckland on 1 December 2018.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of strangling the backpacker until she bled from her nose.

The New Zealander later took intimate images of Ms Millane’s dead body as it lay on the floor of the CityLife hotel where he was living, the court heard.

He is then accused of putting his victim’s body in a suitcase before burying her in a forested area outside Auckland.

The defence claims Ms Millane’s death, on either on 1 or 2 December last year, was accidental and occurred during rough sexual intercourse.

The suspect cannot be identified for legal reasons
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The suspect cannot be identified for legal reasons

The backpacker would have celebrated her 22nd birthday on 2 December 2018.

Forensic experts told Auckland High Court on Friday that there was evidence Ms Millane’s blood had been cleaned up, which the defendant told police he had done.

Scientific testing showed that blood found on the fridge in the man’s apartment was 500,000 million times more likely to belong to Ms Millane than anyone else, the court heard.

DNA expert Turlough Thomas-Stone said “no male DNA was detected” in samples taken from the woman’s fingernails and from the suitcase in which her body was found.

But he added that “damp, moisture, exposure to the elements” can make it harder to identify DNA samples taken from grave sites.

The CityLife hotel apartment where Grace Millane died
Image:
The CityLife hotel apartment where Grace Millane died

He added: “Given the time between the alleged event and the taking of these samples, that could be a potential explanation (for the absence of male DNA).”

Toxicologist Diana Kappatos said testing found no illicit or prescribed drugs in Ms Millane’s body.

The backpacker was found to have 106mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in her body, which is double the legal limit for drivers in New Zealand.

But Ms Kappatos said that microbial action after death may have increased or decreased the concentration of alcohol in Ms Millane’s body.

Ameena Ashcroft, Ms Millane’s friend, said in a letter read to the court that she “thought something was out of place” when the backpacker sent a series of messages during the date in which she admitted to wanting to “get smashed” with the man she met on Tinder.



Security camera footage of British backpacker Grace Millane meeting with her Tinder date and now accused killer was shown to the jury at her New Zealand murder trial.







CCTV traces Grace Millane’s evening with the accused

Security footage showed the pair kiss repeatedly at the Bluestone Room before walking arm in arm a short distance into the lobby of the CityLife hotel.

Ms Millane was shown to follow the defendant out of the lift at 9.41pm.

It was the last time she was seen alive.

Data from the man’s phone showed he had used Google to browse websites for large duffel bags, suitcases and car hire, the court heard.

Grace Millane's parents David and Gillian arrive at Auckland High Court
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Ms Millane’s parents David and Gillian arrive at Auckland High Court

The defendant’s phone was also used to search for “flesh-eating birds” and “are there vultures in New Zealand?” days later on 5 December 2018, the jury was told.

Records showed the defendant had searched online for “the hottest fire”, “large bags near me” and “Waitakere Ranges” – where Ms Millane’s body was later found contorted inside a suitcase on 9 December 2018.

The defendant also watched a string of hardcore pornographic videos on his mobile phone and arranged another Tinder date the day after killing Ms Millane before disposing of her body, the court heard.

The New Zealander claims the backpacker’s death was an accident and she had asked him to hold her throat during sex as a way to increase her pleasure, the jury was told.

The trial, which is expected to last for another four weeks, continues.

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Turkey: Powerful earthquake kills 18 and injures more than 500 | World News

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At least 18 people have been killed after an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 struck eastern Turkey.

Turkish officials said more than 553 people are injured, including 11 who are in a serious condition, and around 30 were left trapped in the wreckage of toppled buildings.

Hundreds of residents were left homeless or with damaged homes and buildings collapsed in affected towns near the centre of the tremor, which was felt in several neighbouring countries.

The quake jolted Elazig province, which is around 340 miles (550km) east of the capital Ankara, and was followed by dozens of aftershocks.

Residents walk on a street as following a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Elazig
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Residents walk on a street in Elazig following a 6.8 magnitude earthquake

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 14 people were killed in Elazig and five more in the neighbouring province of Malatya.

He said two people suffered heart attacks and five others died in Malatya.

Meanwhile Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said emergency workers were looking for 30 people under the rubble, adding that more than 500 people were hurt.

He described the earthquake as a “level 3” incident according to Turkey’s emergency response plan – meaning that it called for a national help response but did not require international help.

Around 30 buildings had collapsed from the quake in the two provinces, according to Environment Minister Murat Kurum.

State broadcaster TRT showed footage of police and emergency workers searching a partly collapsed building in Elazig, as well as smashed windows and balconies that had crashed to the ground.

Rescue teams could also be seen working by hand to remove bricks and plaster from the ruins.

Emergency workers used drills and mechanical diggers to clear the debris, while injured people were taken to stretchers on ambulances.

Elazig residents whose homes were damaged were being moved to student dormitories or sports centres amid freezing conditions.

Mr Soylu added that the country, which is prone to earthquakes, had learnt lessons from past disasters which helped it address Friday’s quake.

Drones were deployed in search operations and communication between provinces.

Turkish officials and police work at the scene of a collapsed building following a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Elazig
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More than 500 people were injured in the disaster

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted that all measures were being taken to “ensure that the earthquake that occurred in Elazig and was felt in many areas is overcome with the least amount of loss”.

The quake struck at 8.55pm local time (5.55pm GMT) at a depth of 4 miles (6.7km) near the town of Sivrice in Elazig, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said.

Several aftershocks followed, the strongest with 5.4 and 5.1.

Turkish officials and police work at the scene of a collapsed building following a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Elazig
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Turkish officials and police work at the scene of a collapsed building in Elazig

The AFAD warned residents not to return to damaged buildings because of the risk of further aftershocks.

It said beds, blankets and tents were being sent to the area, where the overnight temperature was below 0C (32F).

Syria in Iran both reported feeling the earthquake, according to the countries’ state media.

Turkish officials and police try to keep warm at the scene of a collapsed building
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Turkish officials and police try to keep warm at the scene of a collapsed building

Turkey straddles seismic faultiness and has a history of powerful earthquakes.

In 1999, more than 17,000 people were killed when a 7.6 magnitude quake struck the western city of Izmit, around 55 miles (90km) southeast of Istanbul. Around 500,000 people were made homeless after the disaster.

And in 2011 an earthquake struck the eastern city of Van and the town of Ecris, killing at least 523 people.

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Three children found dead at house in Ireland | World News

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Police in Ireland are investigating the deaths of three children in a house in Newcastle, Co Dublin.

Two boys and girl were found dead and a woman in her 40s has been taken to Tallaght hospital.

Police have described the deaths as “unexplained” but it is understood they are not looking for anyone else in relation to the incident.

An incident room has been set up in Clondalkin police station and officers have appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

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Mosquito-killing fungus wins prestigious award | Science & Tech News

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Researchers based in the US and Burkino Faso have won a prestigious prize for their creation of a fungus which kills mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes are a major spreader of disease, especially malaria, as well as dengue and Zika.

In a paper published in the journal Science last May the authors described how they had engineered a fungus which could infect mosquitoes that had grown immune to insecticides, causing a rapid population collapse in a simulated village setting.

According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which awards the Newcomb Cleveland Prize, a child dies of malaria every two minutes.

“In 2018, the World Health Organisation reported 228 million cases of malaria and more than 400,000 deaths from the disease worldwide, with 93% of cases and 94% of deaths occurring in Africa.

“Burkina Faso, a country of just under 20 million people, recorded nearly 8 million cases that year,” the AAAS added.

Although these figures seem stark, they are a remarkable improvement. Cases of malaria have dropped by 18% and deaths by 28% since 2010 thanks to new insecticides being applied to bed nets and living spaces.

But mosquito populations are increasingly developing a resistance to these insecticides, leaving vulnerable communities in need of new and novel methods of tackling the insects.

Dr Brian Lovett, then just a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland, and Etienne Bilgo, a postdoc fellow at the Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé in Burkina Faso, developed one such novel method.

A blood-engorged female Aedes albopictus mosquito feeding on a human host, 2001. Under experimental conditions the Aedes albopictus mosquito, also known as the Asian Tiger Mosquito, has been found to be a vector of West Nile Virus. Aedes is a genus of the Culicine family of mosquitoes. Image courtesy CDC/James Gathany. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).
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A new fungus can kill mosquitoes

They genetically engineered a naturally occurring fungal pathogen to produce a toxin derived from spider venom, and using this they were able to sidestep the mosquitoes’ resistance to insecticide.

The toxin is harmless to humans and managed to kill 75% of an insecticide-resistance population of mosquitoes within just 45 days.

“The study is one of extraordinary scope and creativity,” said Holden Thorp, editor-in-chief of the journal Science and chair of the Newcomb Cleveland prize selection committee.

“Not only is it a highly clever idea to use a fungus to transmit insect-selective toxins, but the breadth of the study, from engineering the fungus all the way through demonstrating the viability of the approach, is superb and meets all of our highest standards.”

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