The Oldest Profession

Aberdeen escort told colleague she ‘wished her life was different’ on day she was murdered

Published in The Press & Journal
6th January 2017

A man accused of raping and murdering an escort girl was caught on CCTV walking towards her flat on the day prosecutors allege she was killed.
Bala Chinda is on trial at the High Court in Aberdeen accused of inflicting blunt force trauma to Jessica McGraa’s head, compressing her neck, forcing her face into a pillow and asphyxiating her. The 26-year-old is also accused of holding her down on a bed and raping her at a property in Aberdeen’s Union Terrace on February 11 last year.

He faces further allegations that he stole a key and two mobile phones from 36-year-old Miss McGraa, and disposed of his own handset in attempt to defeat the ends of justice.

Yesterday, on the second day of his trial, jurors were shown CCTV images of the last time Miss McGraa was seen alive – the day before her body was found. Detective Constable Christine White told the court she had been involved in compiling various CCTV clips.

The court was shown footage of a male – identified in court by DC White as Chinda – walking towards the flat in Union Terrace where Miss McGraa was staying on February 11 at 11.08am.

Just over an hour-and-a-half later, footage shows them both walking from the direction of the address into a taxi outside. A series of clips then trace the route of the car before it stops at student accommodation at 256 King Street.

The male is seen getting out and going into the accommodation, emerging a few minutes later. He can be seen going on to try the door at a nearby hair salon and standing there for a few moments before turning away when it appears to be locked.

The footage also shows the taxi travelling along Union Street, and turning on to Union Terrace. At 1.02pm two figures emerge from the car and go towards the flat.

Advocate depute Paul Kearney, prosecuting, asked DC White: “We saw the female had the same distinctive coat and trousers, and the male had the same clothing as the male we have been following?”

She agreed this was the case.

He then asked her: “You watched the footage from that camera for the rest of the day, and the rest of February 12 – once it got light, up until the ambulance arrived?”

She replied: “That’s correct.”

Mr Kearney asked: “Was Jessica McGraa ever seen again?”

DC White replied: “No.”

The court was shown further CCTV in which the same male is seen turning on to Union Street from Union Terrace at 1.17pm. Clips of him walking down Union Street and King Street to the student accommodation were played.

DC White was asked about a section where he briefly goes up a couple of steps at a public house at the King Street-Union Street junction. Mr Kearney said: “Do you know what was up those steps?”

She replied: “There’s a bin, almost like a cigarette bin with a normal part underneath.”

Chinda’s defence counsel, Ian Duguid QC, put it to DC White that the camera would only be able to pick up people coming and going from the flat if they were turned towards Rosemount Viaduct rather than from the Union Street direction, and she agreed this was the case.

He went on to put it to her that Chinda was “not in any particular hurry” when walking down Union Street and she agreed he was walking “in a fairly ordinary languid style”.

He also asked her if he could be seen while walking down Union Street to put anything in a bin, and DC White replied: “Not that you can see clearly.” He later asked her: “On Union Street did you see him go to a bin?”

She replied: “No.”

Also giving evidence was Nely Ellis, 48, who told the court that last February she was working in the sex industry. She said she knew Miss McGraa only as Bianca, and met her twice. The pair met up in Aberdeen on February 10 and went for food at Union Square.

She told the court: “She looked very sad, I said are you ok? Because I did not know her. She said ‘no my life – I am not happy. I wish my life was different’.”

Miss Ellis said Miss McGraa told her she needed to go after receiving a call and that she believed it had been from a client.

The trial continues.