The man who murdered British backpacker Grace Millane has failed to have his convictions dismissed for sexual violence against two other women.
At the Court of Appeal, Jesse Shane Kempson’s lawyer said the victims exaggerated their evidence because of the Millane case.
The now 30-year-old was found guilty of raping a woman in a motel room and seriously assaulting and sexually violating a former girlfriend at two separate trials.
In November, he appealed his convictions and sentences at the Court of Appeal in Auckland.
On Monday, Justice Matthew Muir, Justice Forrie Miller and Justice David Gendall released the decision dismissing the appeal.
They found no miscarriage of justice had occurred in either case and the sentences imposed were not manifestly excessive.
Kempson is already serving a life sentence for Millane’s murder and was ordered to serve the other sentences concurrently.
Kempson was sentenced to seven years and six months’ imprisonment by Justice Timothy Brewer after being found guilty of serious violent and sexual charges against a former girlfriend, who cannot be named.
The pair met on Tinder in 2016 and moved in together shortly after.
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She said Kempson tried to kill her in January 2017, chasing her around the house with a knife and holding her in a chokehold.
“I’ve never been so scared in my life,” she said at trial.
Kempson also forced her to perform sexual acts on him, she said.
In April 2017, the woman left Kempson and was granted a protection order against him, but criminal charges weren’t laid.
In December 2018, the victim saw a blurred image of her ex-boyfriend in media reports about Millane’s disappearance.
Kempson was also sentenced to three-and-a-half years for raping a young British woman in April 2018 by Justice Geoffrey Venning.
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During the trial, the woman told the court she’d recently arrived in New Zealand and met Kempson on Tinder.
They drank at a bar and kissed before Kempson drove her to a motel where he was living.
He made attempts to touch her and when she told him to stop, he got angry. She said: “I’ve never been shouted at like that before by anyone.”
The victim said she discovered Kempson was the man charged with killing Millane after her work colleagues found overseas media coverage naming him.
She instantly recognised photos that matched his Tinder account and notified police.
Mansfield said Kempson’s ex-girlfriend’s statement to police changed after the publicity over the murder case.
“[The ex-girlfriend] made it very clear she thought she was Grace’s voice, as if it was incumbent on her to support the police investigation,” Mansfield said.
Mansfield said there was a real risk of “social panic” in evaluating complainants’ evidence when there’s alleged sexual violence.
The defence lawyer said it was very important for a complainant to be subject to the same judicial scrutiny.
However, prosecutor Fiona Culliney said both judges found the victims’ evidence credible.
The ex-girlfriend gave detailed evidence about Kempson’s abuse, which was degrading.
The Court of Appeal said the ex-girlfriend gave a coherent narrative of a relationship that was emotionally, financially and physically abusive and included low-level violence throughout.
When she spoke to police, her allegations were now being taken seriously as she didn’t have the defendant calling and texting her, as she did back in 2017.
Culliney said the motel rape victim’s emotional response when giving evidence was real and not contrived, as Justice Venning found.
When the victim later saw Kempson’s face online in regard to Grace Millane’s disappearance, she had a visceral reaction, Culliney said.
A pre-sentence report said Kempson had a troubled upbringing. His parents separated when he was three and at times his father was violent and his mother rejected him.
At sentencing, Justice Venning said although “it [was] very difficult to see that there is any connection between your cultural disconnect identified in the report and this offending”, Kempson’s upbringing might explain to some extent his attitude towards women.
Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyond blue on 1300 22 4636.
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.
Multicultural Mental Health Australia www.mmha.org.au.
National Domestic Violence Service: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732). If you are in immediate danger call triple zero (000).
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Last modified: May 26, 2022