By Stephen D'Antal in Auckland
A student has told how she fought for her life when the man accused of murdering Grace Millane suffocated her as she gave him oral sex.
She told the jury through tears: "I was terrified. I thought, 'This can't be the way that I die'."
She told Auckland High Court she battled "with all my might", before deciding to feign unconsciousness in the hope the man would notice her desperation.
But when he eventually released her, he acted as if nothing was wrong and allegedly told her: "You don't think I did that deliberately?"
The student also said she sent the man hundreds of text messages in which she suggested continuing their relationship.
Wearing a dark suit and open necked white shirt, the defendant, 27, who cannot be named for legal reasons, listened impassively in the dock as the woman gave evidence by video link.
He is accused of strangling Grace the night before her 22nd birthday during rough sex, but claims it was an accident and that the backpacker, from Wickford in Essex, asked him to choke her.
The court heard last week that Grace felt she had "clicked" with him.
The student, whose identity is protected, said she met the man through Tinder in March last year and went on one date before ceasing contact.
But they reconnected in October and ended up in his Auckland apartment in early November, the same place where Grace would die just a month later.
"He had been talking about how much he loved me and wanted to be with me," she said.
She refused sex but agreed to give him oral sex when he removed his pants.
She was lying across the bed and he put his knees either side of her head, facing her feet.
She became unable to breathe when the 27-year-old put all his weight on her face, she told the jury at Auckland High Court.
"He sat down so that he wasn't supporting any of his body weight," she said. "He had grabbed my arms so I couldn't move them.
"I started kicking to indicate I couldn't breathe. He just sat there – he didn't move at all. It was probably 30 or 40 seconds but I managed to get the tiniest little bit of air out of the corner of my mouth.
"I decided to lie completely still and hoped he would realise something was wrong. My arms were flopping. I acted like I passed out and he still didn't get off.
"There were so many thoughts running through my mind. I thought: this can't be the way that I die."
Only after another 30 or 40 seconds of kicking and struggling did the man get off her, the woman said.
"Finally he just sat up. I was gasping and he just said to me: 'Oh, what's wrong?' I said: 'What do you mean what's wrong?'
"He said, accusing and quite cold: 'You don't think I did that on purpose do you?'
"I think I was in disbelief and shock."
The student said she was fit and strong, a frequent gym-goer who played team sports three times a week, but was powerless against the defendant.
She also admitted sending the defendant hundreds of text messages, telling hiRead More – Source