The family of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane is calling on the New Zealand Government to ban the “rough sex gone wrong” defence, after the United Kingdom had it outlawed.
But Justice Minister Andrew Little says it’s “not something we’ll be looking at” at this point.
UK Justice Minister Alex Chalk previously said it was “unconscionable” that consensual rough sex could be used to justify the death of a woman, the BBC reported.
The defence drew criticism during the trial of the British backpacker’s killer, which took place in Auckland in November 2019.
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Millane, 21, died sometime between December 1 and 2, 2018, after she went on a Tinder date with the man in Auckland’s CBD.
Her killer, a 28-year-old who cannot be named, denied murder and claimed her death was a tragic accident after the pair had rough sex at his apartment.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to serve a minimum of 17 years behind bars.
In the UK, the amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill rules out “consent for sexual gratification” as a defence for causing serious harm to another person. It has been passed by MPs and will now go to the House of Lords.
In a statement published by British MP Harriet Harman on Twitter, Millane’s family said they were pleased the defence would now be banned and hoped other countries, especially New Zealand, followed suit.
“It needs to be called what it really is and that’s murder. Families won’t have to sit [and] listen to only one side of the story whilst the victim is revictimised & doesn’t get to tell their side,” the statement said.
“It was truly horrendous listening to the defence, it felt like Grace was on trial, yet not able to defend herself.
“Hopefully this means no other family has to go through this [and] men will stop using this defence as an excuse to kill women, knowing they can get a lesser sentence.
“We now hope that the rest of the world takes notice, and follows our lead, especially New Zealand. Changes need to be made to protect women [and] make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
The bill, set to become law in England and Wales later this year, makes it “crystal clear” the defence is unacceptable, Chalk said.
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Detective Inspector Scott Beard, who led the Grace Millane murder investigation, says “rough sex” is not a defence to murder.
Millane’s cousin Hannah O’Callaghan, who is also a spokeswoman for Love Grace X, a charity set up in her memory, said the family was pleased the government was putting a stop to the defence.
“It needs to be called what it really is, and that’s murder – and you cannot consent to that.”
Detective Inspector Scott Beard, who led the investigation into Millane’s death, said rough sex should not be a defence to murder.
Strangling someone for five to 10 minutes until they die “is not rough sex”, he said.
“The Millanes sat through a trial for a number of weeks and their daughter’s background, rightly or wrongly, was out in the public.
“What, for me, hurts is that it’s repeatedly revictimising the family,” Beard said.
However, Justice Minister Andrew Little said the Government isn’t currently looking at banning the defence.
“We have the Sexual Violence Legislation going through the parliamentary process at the moment, which deals with the traumatic experience of victims of sexual offending in trials. We are not considering any other changes at this point,” he said.
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