The former flatmate of Grace Millane’s murderer says she understands how the British backpacker “fell for him because he was charming”, but says those who knew him knew not to be alone with him.

In an interview for a documentary airing on ITV in the UK this week, Millie Mason, a former flatmate of Jesse Kempson, says the household knew “you shouldn’t be near him alone” but also says she understood why Millane was drawn to him as he was “charming”.

ITV2’s “The Murder of Grace Millane: Social Media Murders”, to air this week, will tell the story of the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane, who was killed while in New Zealand in December 2018, after meeting her murderer on dating app Tinder.

In the documentary, the former flatmate of the rapist and killer talks about her own experience living with the man, and the suspicions that had already arisen prior to thekilling.

Speaking to ITV, Mason says her household “knew you shouldn’t be near him alone” but added that she “completely gets how Grace fell for him because he’s charming”.

“It took us weeks to realise that we shouldn’t be in this situation and we shouldn’t be near this person,” she said, explaining why Millane would not have known the killer’s true colours.

Eventually, she says, those who lived with him “just all, all started getting a bad feeling”.

“One night when I wasn’t at the house, neither was one of my other flatmates, so it was just the one girl left alone in the house, he came back, he was drunk and she was scared enough that she slept with a knife that night.

“We eventually stopped wanting to be alone in the house with him, you just knew you shouldn’t be near him alone. It does make you wonder, what else he was hiding, what else wasn’t true,” she added.

Mason also recalled the moment she was told her flatmate had murdered Grace Millane.

“It was awful. The friend of ours who took the room after Jesse moved out messaged us three girls, and we were all living in London at the time.

“We’d been following the story because people don’t really go missing in New Zealand, let alone a young girl. I woke up to our group chat and he said ‘It was Jesse’,” she recalled.

Mason had lived with the murderer for a few weeks, two years before the murder.

“It was a shock,” she added. “It goes all around in your head – I wasn’t imagining it. Shock more than anything but I don’t know if I was surprised – you are but you aren’t.”

Kempson murdered Millane on December 2, 2018 – the night before her 22nd birthday.

'Men need to call out men'

Mason, who met her husband on a dating app, says the tragedy did make her and her friends rethink how they use social media – and dating apps in particular.

“I think men need to call out men. It’s all well and good for me to stand here and say ‘you shouldn’t do this’. If they’re going to do it, they’re not going to listen to what I have to say about it,” she said.

“But they probably care what their father, their grandfather and their best mate has to say.”

Kempson was convicted of Millane’s murder in November 2019, and sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum of 17 years.

Sexual harm – Where to get help

If it’s an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone, contact Safe to Talk confidentially, any time 24/7:
• Call 0800 044 334
• Text 4334
• Email [email protected]
• For more info or to web chat visit safetotalk.nz
Alternatively contact your local police station – click here for a list.

If you have been sexually assaulted, remember it’s not your fault.

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