A WICKFORD backpacker strangled to death had bruises on her neck consistent with pressure over a “sufficient period of time and with sufficient force”, a court heard.

Forensic pathologist Dr Simon Stables was giving evidence in the trial of a 27-year-old man accused of murdering Grace Millane on the eve of her 22nd birthday.

Dr Stables told the court in New Zealand bruising on the left side of her neck was significant.

Crown prosecutors allege that on the night of December 1 the accused, 27, strangled Grace to death in his central city apartment after the pair spent the night drinking.

Her body was found crammed into a suitcase and dumped in a shallow grave in Auckland’s Waitākere Ranges a week later.

The jury also heard injuries were discovered consistent with restraint being applied.

Regarding the neck injuries he said: “It’s not going to happen through a gentle touch of the neck.

“It actually takes quite a bit of effort, it doesn’t seem like it, but to do so takes quite a bit of effort and strength.”

Three small red bruises were also found on the inside of her right upper arm, just above the elbow.

He continued: “If someone has grabbed on the arm, if there is sufficient force, the fingers may leave bruising.”

He told the court she also had other bruising and it was caused “probably around the time of death” and the pattern was consistent with “some sort of restraint”.

“We can’t be exact, it’s just impossible,” he said of trying to date the injuries.

Dr Stables was called to the scene when her body was found on December 9 in a suitcase.

The accused claims the pair had consensual rough sex which went wrong.

Ian Brookie, defending, asked Dr Stables whether the alcohol in Miss Millane’s system may have inhibited the way a person “bounces back” from being consensually strangled. Dr Stables claimed “some form of escape mechanism” would be expected in consensual acts.

The court also saw a video of police questioning the suspect, whilst Grace was still missing.

Grace was killed on the night of December 1 but her body was not discovered for more than a week.

During the investigation into her disappearance, on December 6, police questioned the 27-year-old accused, who cannot be named for legal reasons, about his contact with her.

A tape of the interview between the accused, who denies murder, and Detective Ewen Settle was played to the court yesterday.

During the video the defendant tells the officer they matched on Tinder the day before they met - December 1.

After talking about her travels he asked to meet her at SkyCity for a drink.

He said: “We met outside the front doors, I gave her a hug, she gave me a hug.

“We decided that we were going up to Andy’s Burger Bar.

“We were talking about siblings. She said she has brothers.”

The detective asked about the rest of the evening, on the video played to the jury.

The defendant said: “Umm yeah, pretty good.

“We drank a few cocktails and we were having good conversations.”

He claimed, during the interview on December 6, they then went their separate way after leaving the burger bar.

CCTV footage shows they actually went onto other bars and then back to his hotel.

However during this account he said: “I go down Victoria St, straight down to the bottom, and hang a left and head towards the Viaduct.

“I was going to go down to the pubs down there.”

He told the detective he then spent a couple of hours at a sports bar on Queen St.

However the detective slid a piece of paper across the table and showed the accused an image from a CCTV camera.

It was of him and Grace Millane.

“What time is this?” the detective asked.

The accused paused and questioned the photo before replying “I would say 8.30pm-9pm?”

Before the taped interview the defendant was spoken to by officers about his knowledge of the then missing 22-year-old from Wickford.

The court also heard about some of the social media interactions between the pair.

The trial continues.