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Detective Inspector Scott Beard was interviewed for ITV2’s brand new and first ever documentary series, The Social Media Murders, with the first in the three-part series observing the brutal murder of British backpacker Grace Millane in New Zealand in 2018.
The hour-long episode shows how Jesse Shane Kempson was tracked down by police, after he was the last person to comment on pictures on Grace’s Facebook page.
Kempson presented himself to police in a three-piece suite to give an interview, where he claimed that, after matching with Grace on Tinder, the pair went for drinks in a nearby shopping centre, before going their separate ways.
However, the police already had found CCTV footage which showed Kempson with his arm around Grace, as the pair made their way back to his hotel room.
“We knew he was a liar at this point,” DI Beard explains. “He was very comfortable and plausible with his lies.
“He was very believable and professional.”
While officers knew that Kempson was being economical with the truth, they did not have evidence that he had done anything to Grace, who had been missing for over a week at this point.
The documentary shows how Kempson, who had remained cool and collected throughout his first interview, let his mask slip at the very end of question, as he asks in a panic: “Am I being arrested for something I didn’t do?”
However, the police started to build up more evidence against Kempson, and arranged for a search warrant of the hotel room in which he was staying.
After forensic officers used luminol, they were stunned to find copious amounts of blood had been spilled and hastily cleaned.
“When we saw the luminol in his apartment room, we said: ‘Oh my God, what’s he done?’” DI Beard said.
It was in their second interview with Kempson where their prime suspect confessed that he had taken Grace back to his hotel room, where he said they had “consensual violent sex”.
After he “fell asleep” in the shower, Kempson claimed he went back to the bedroom to find Grace on the floor, and he was unable to wake her.
“It was a complete contradiction to what he told us in the first interview,” DI Beard said. “His second interview was completely self-serving. He’s basically a narcissist, a sociopath. We worked out everything he said in that first interview was a lie.
"He strangled Grace for seven to 10 minutes. That's not rough sex. That's murder."
Even in his second interview, Kempson’s lies continued – he claimed he had no knowledge of what he had done with Grace’s belongings, when CCTV footage showed him carrying a black bag of clothes across Auckland, and binning them in a public trash can.
Kempson pleaded not guilty when the case went to trial, saying Grace died after consensual rough sex, but was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.
The case attracted international attention, and resulted in laws in England and Wales changing, with ‘rough sex’ now banned as defence on a murder trial.
The Social Media Murders: The Murder Of Grace Millane airs Monday 15th November at 9pm on ITV2 and the ITV Hub.
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