Grace Millane’s murderer was today unmasked as a serial sex attacker and fantasist who claimed to be a CIA assassin and cousin of an All Blacks star but was really just an ‘oddball’ salesman.
Jesse Kempson, 28, strangled Miss Millane, 21, in his studio apartment after the pair met on dating app Tinder in December 2018, before burying her body in a shallow grave on the outskirts of Auckland.
Eight months before that he raped another British tourist who he met on Tinder and had previously subjected his girlfriend to abuse and sexual assault.
Now court documents have laid bare the webs of lies that Kempson spun to friends, family, women and colleagues – including that he was a high-flying oil company manager, had gang connections, was a cancer survivor and an orphan.
In reality, Kempson struggled to hold down jobs and turned compulsively to Tinder to boost his ego, where he told women he was fabulously wealthy.
Jesse Kempson (left), 28, strangled Grace Millane (right), 21, in his studio apartment after the pair met on dating app Tinder in 2018, before burying her body in a shallow grave
Kempson is pictured at a hearing at Auckland High Court in New Zealand in February
Miss Millane (pictured) was strangled after meeting Kempson via Tinder on December 1, 2018
The shocking details could not previously be revealed because Kempson was on trial for raping another woman in 2018 and for assaulting his girlfriend the year before that.
His identity was kept secret over fears that linking him to Miss Millane’s murder could prejudice those cases.
Kempson was found guilty in both trials and another 11 years has been added to his sentence to run concurrently with the 17-year minimum he will serve for Miss Millane’s murder.
And last week, Kempson lost an appeal against that murder conviction meaning his identity could finally be revealed, along with the bizarre web of lies he spun around his life.
Grace Millane’s final hours on Tinder date that led to her death
December 1, 2018
5.45pm: Grace Millane was shown arriving in front of the casino’s 20 foot tall Christmas tree, where she stood waiting for her date. She sends a picture of the tree to her parents in Essex. He arrives and they hug.
6pm: The two of them walk into the casino and find Andy’s Burger Bar. He and Grace were seen ordering drinks and finding a table.
7.12pm: The couple left the burger bar and cross the road into the Mexican cafe where they spend the next hour until the defendant came to pay the bill with her standing beside him.
8.27pm: The pair were filmed in the distance crossing Albert Street and moving ever closer to the killer’s home. They headed into the Bluestone Room where the accused had earlier been drinking beer alone. They kiss.
9.41pm: CCTV shows the couple entering the hotel where the killer was living. They enter the lift and head to the killer’s apartment. In the hours that followed she was brutally murdered, possibly in the early hours of December 2, her birthday.
He was described by teammates of the amateur softball side he played for as an ‘oddball’ and ‘loner.’
A former teammate told Mail Online: ‘He was creepy towards girls. His life revolved around girls, taking to girls.
‘He was always trying to get with younger girls… he was very quiet around the boys.’
Kempson lured women to motels or his £190-a-week studio apartment in an inner city hotel.
His landlord previously told reporters how he had considered confronting Kempson over the number of women he brought back.
‘He appeared to have been a pick-up artist,’ the landlord said. ‘It seems like that was his full time job, like it was all he did.’
He told his landlord he was a successful supermarket manager but in reality he was paying rent with state benefits.
He had moved there after a fallout with female housemates who were increasingly concerned about his mood swings, attempted womanising and threatening behaviour.
He boasted of being a businessman and of plans to buy a glamorous restaurant on Auckland’s waterfront.
It was all lies, and he was even sacked from his job as a salesman the very day he and Miss Millane started messaging each other on Tinder; Friday, November 30.
Kempson, a telephone salesman, wrote fake invoices and called his own phone to claim commission for made up jobs.
‘Jesse had targets set for him and he met them by writing fake invoices and calling his own phone,’ a former colleague told The Sun.
‘He was forever going missing, then trying to claim commission on made up jobs.’
Just weeks before Miss Millane’s murder, the catastrophic impact his lies were having seemed to dawn on Kempson who took to Facebook to apologise for upsetting his friends.
‘I just want anyone who I’ve hurt, let down, to know I’m truly sorry from my heart,’ wrote the then-26-year-old as he owned up to ‘arrogance and selfishness’ that had damaged his close relationships.
‘But with that being said,’ he wrote, ‘we can change how we treat each other and over time I’ve learnt how much compassion we all have as people.
‘When we grow up, we make mistakes. That’s how we improve.’
His own family described him as a ‘complex character’ who had fallen out with his father several years ago and cut ties with most of his other relatives.
The body of murdered the British backpacker was dumped in this muddy hole in the ground
Grace Millane and Jesse Kempson were seen together in CCTV footage after meeting online
Footage showed them kissing during their Tinder date in December 2018
Grace’s killer was seen in a lift in the building where he lived and where Miss Millane went to his apartment on the night she died
Miss Millane is pictured in April 2017 (left) and in in September 2016 in San Francisco (right)
His grandmother said he was ‘a very confused young man’ who painted a picture of a chaotic life after his parents split up.
His grandfather said that he ‘loved his sport’ but in more recent times he’d been ‘at a bit of a loose end’.
‘He was a nice kid but he sort of fell out with everybody, which is what happens with broken up marriages,’ he said.
He added that the killer was estranged from his father because of ‘a difference in opinion on life’.
Kempson’s stepbrother condemned him as a ‘pathological liar that lies over pointless things and continues to lie until the point where he has got no out, absolutely no out, and then he just breaks down and cries and runs away.
Kempson (pictured) struggled to hold down jobs because of his lies and he turned compulsively to Tinder to impress women with fantastical claims of his lavish wealth
‘But he can’t do that any more thankfully. It’s just absolutely terrible that a life had to be lost because of that.’
Previously, it had been reported that Kempson murdered Grace on the night of December 2, 2018 – the day before her 22nd birthday.
The pair had met in Auckland and gone for drinks before Kempson took her back to a hotel where he was living and strangled her to death during sex.
He then took shocking photos of her dead body, watched pornography, and then went on another date before bundling Grace’s body into a suitcase which he buried in a shallow grave in woodlands.
But what we now know is that, eight months before that murder, Kempson had raped another British tourist who he also met through the online dating site.
The 21-year-old had been in New Zealand for a few weeks visiting her family before connecting with Kempson on Tinder.
The pair agreed to go out for drinks on Auckland’s waterfront, during which Kempson – dressed in a blue blazer – bragged about owning an expensive BMW and quickly started talking about marriage.
After drinks at two more venues – during which time the victim texted friends to say she was ‘a little worried’ about Kempson – he took her back to a motel that he was living in, lying that his nearby apartment was being redecorated.
It was then that Kempson attempted to have sex with her, and she refused, but was unable to leave because she had left her door keys and passport in one of the bars.
The woman said she got into bed fully clothed and attempted to sleep, before Kempson made his way on top of her and raped her.
Pictures of the bedroom in Auckland where Kempson throttled Miss Millane two years ago
‘I was in the room physically but I don’t remember what I did. I was just there. My brain just won’t let me remember. I’m sorry. It’s like I was just frozen.
‘I didn’t want to be there, I was still crying. I don’t know how that wasn’t obvious.’
The woman had kept the 2018 attack secret until she recognised Kempson, now 28, from British newspaper websites – which had been allowed to publish his identity – on the day that he was charged with Grace’s murder.
The woman went straight to police who opened an investigation, but the case was not prosecuted until after Miss Milane’s murder trial had finished.
Grace Millane’s killer Jesse Kempson is described as an ‘oddball’ by former friends
In a statement read to the court as Kempson was sentenced for rape, the victim said for a long time she had woken up ‘crying and screaming’ with flashbacks and nightmares, terrified that Kempson would track her down.
‘Every time I went to sleep, I’d see your eyes popping out of your head, staring at me in anger,’ she said.
Vowing never to say Kempson’s name aloud, she said she had had to check her front door was locked three times every night, but with support from counsellors and her partner had recovered.
‘I am not scared,’ she said. ‘I am strong. I am not alone. I am loved. I have so much to look forward to in my life and I will not look back.
‘You don’t have any power over me any more.’
As Kempson was found guilty of the rape, he lashed out at the judge from the dock – telling him: ‘You have no reason to convict me. You’re full of s*** mate.’
At his sentencing last month, Justice Venning said it was clear Kempson did not accept his offending and told him: ‘You have no remorse or insight into it.’
But Justice Venning had noted that Kempson’s mother ‘rejected him’ at a young age which ‘may go some way towards explaining your attitude towards women’.
Kempson’s mother Marie, who was a teenager when she gave birth to him, had left the family home while he was in primary school after her marriage to his father – Jason – fell apart.
She took Jesse’s younger brother Jonah with her to start a new life in Australia, but left him behind with his father – where he suffered ‘physical and emotional violence’.
As a teenager he had gone to Australia to try and find his lost family in an attempt at reconciliation, but his efforts came to nothing.
In the other trial, he was convicted of terrorising his live-in girlfriend over a period of months.
She described him as a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character who regularly ‘flipped’ after they moved in to an apartment which she had used her savings to rent and furnish.
‘The first time he hit me we were having an argument and he just slapped me across the face,’ she told the court.
‘I’ve been in an abusive relationship before so I vowed to myself that I would never get back into one.
‘So this was just like, I’m in it now. This is scary. I can’t escape. I’ve just put a lease down on this place, moved in, how the f*** am I supposed to get away.’
Miss Millane’s parents Dave and Gillian speak outside the High Court in Auckland last year
Kempson, she said, had had a variety of jobs in their seven month relationship, working at a pub, a clothes shop and collecting for charity.
But he lost them all and scrounged increasing amounts of money from her, repeatedly breaking promises to pay her back, which prompted confrontations.
‘We had these two big butcher knives and whenever he got angry… he would go straight to the kitchen, get one of those knives and hold it to my throat.
‘I could never understand why he got so angry towards me. I just loved him and I just wanted him to love me like I loved him.’
The fights came to head in January 2017, when Kempson told her he had been sent by the CIA to kill her and, with a knife to her throat, told her ‘you are going to die today’ before ordering her to perform ‘ghastly’ sexual acts.
‘I just looked at him and I said, ‘Please don’t make me do this.
‘I was crying and he said to me, ‘If you don’t do this I will kill you and I will kill your family and you know I will’.
‘I have never been so scared in my life.’
The girl said she reported the physical assault to the police, but kept the sexual assaults secret because she did not want her family to learn about them.
It was only 18 months later, after seeing a therapist, that she went to detectives involved in the Grace Millane case and confessed the full horror of what happened.
‘I carried so much shame about what he had done to me, it took me to learn that someone else had died before I was able to find the courage to speak,’ she told the court at Kempson’s sentencing.
Details of the two new cases and their links to Grace Millane’s death can only be reported now after Kempson failed in a bid to overturn his murder conviction and sentence at New Zealand’s Court of Appeal.
Their ruling, released on Friday, and a final decision from the Supreme Court today, cleared the way for New Zealand media to finally reveal Kempson’s identity, more than two years after Grace died.
In August, at his appeal hearing, his barrister Rachael Reed admitted his actions after Grace died had been ‘inexcusable’ but said the jury, who took just five hours to deliver a unanimous guilty verdict, had not been directed properly on the consent issue by Judge Simon Moore.
Reed also argued the 17-year minimum non-parole term was ‘manifestly unjust’, saying there was no evidence of excessive violence.
But Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey argued the grounds for the appeal on consent were ‘flimsy’ and the Court of Appeal judges agreed, saying Kempson’s behaviour ‘is indicative of a degree of wholly self-regarding wickedness throughout the incident and its aftermath.’