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Shana Grice: murder trial judge criticises Sussex police for failing her

Sentencing former boyfriend Michael Lane to life, judge says Grice did not get the help she sought from police but was stereotyped

A judge criticised police as he jailed a stalker who murdered his former girlfriend five months after officers gave her a fixed penalty notice for wasting their time with complaints about him.

Mr Justice Green said police jumped to conclusions and stereotyped Shana Grice. The former boyfriend, Michael Lane, was given life with a minimum term of 25 years.

When Grice, 19, had sought help from Sussex police she had received none, Green said. She was found last August, in her bedroom at the Brighton bungalow she shared with two housemates, with her throat slashed.

Lane, 27, had waited until Grice was at home alone. He had then murdered her and set fire to her bedroom. She had decided to rekindle a relationship with her previous partner, Ashley Cooke.

It emerged during the two-week trial at Lewes crown court that police had been told that Lane had pulled Grice’s hair and grabbed her mobile phone last March. No further action was taken against him, and Grice received a penalty for not disclosing she had been in a relationship with him.

“In other words, she was treated as the wrongdoer and having committed a criminal offence, Michael Lane was treated as the victim,” Green said during sentencing. “There was seemingly no appreciation on the part of those investigating that a young woman in a sexual relationship with a man could at one and the same time be vulnerable and at risk of serious harm. The police jumped to conclusions and Shana was stereotyped.”

The judge said the incident meant police treated all further complaints by Grice with scepticism. When further stalking incidents took place, she felt her complaints would not be taken seriously by the police, he said.

Green also said police left Lane feeling that they would not act if he continued his “obsessive stalking”.

Grice’s parents, Sharon Grice and Richard Green, said their daughter would still be alive if Sussex police had acted on her complaints. In a statement following sentencing, they said Lane was a “dangerous and obsessive man” who had shown “arrogance and cowardice” by pleading not guilty.

They said: “In his contemptible defence he sought to blame innocent men for his actions. He compounded this by relying on the wholly inadequate police assessment of risk to Shana to suggest he was no danger to her. We firmly believe Shana would be alive today if Sussex police had acted to protect Shana on the many occasions she complained about Lane, rather than issue her with a fine for wasting police time.”

Sussex police apologised to Grice’s family and referred themselves to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which has launched an inquiry.

Bernie O’Reilly, a deputy chief constable, said: “When we looked at the circumstances leading to Shana’s murder, we felt we may not have done the very best we could.”

The trial had heard that Lane had refused to accept the breakup with Grice and decided no one else could be with her. He told a friend: “She’ll pay for what she’s done.”

In the months before he killed her, he stalked Grice and put a tracker device on her car, receiving notifications via a phone app every time the vehicle moved.

Grice also complained about Lane following her, about her tyres repeatedly being let down, and about receiving heavy-breathing phone calls from withheld numbers.

She was found dead, face down on her bed, in her smoke-filled room by Cooke’s father, Ian Cooke, after colleagues reported that she had failed to go to work.

Lane, a mechanic, claimed he had discovered her body but then left the house in shock. Jurors convicted him of murder after just over two hours of deliberation on Wednesday.


This is an update on the trial.

Source: ONTD_Political

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