Sussex

Shana Grice: Police misconduct over victim's stalking claims

Shana Grice smiling Image copyright Grice family
Image caption Shana Grice was murdered by her ex-boyfriend who stalked her

An ex-PC committed misconduct by failing to investigate a teenager's claims she was being harassed by a former boyfriend who later killed her.

Trevor Godfrey told a disciplinary panel he believed Shana Grice's accusations against Michael Lane were a "smokescreen" to hide their affair.

The 19-year-old reported Lane to Sussex Police five times in the months before she was murdered in Brighton in 2016.

The panel found Mr Godfrey had not committed gross misconduct.

The former officer, who retired in 2017, issued the teenager with a warning for wasting police time and decided to take no further action against Lane.

He was told he would not have been sacked if he was still serving.

Ms Grice's parents said the misconduct charge was "a joke and the hearing a sham".

'Character assassination'

The panel found Mr Godfrey failed to adequately investigate allegations of harassment and stalking, and that he failed to treat Ms Grice as a victim, in a breach of police rules.

Chairwoman Victoria Goodfellow said: "While clearly serious matters, they are not enough to mean gross misconduct."

She added: "We do not attribute any blame on Shana."

The hearing in Lewes had been told Miss Grice had initially failed to disclose she and Lane had been in a relationship.

But Sarah Green, of the Independent Office for Police Conduct, said Mr Godfrey had failed in his "duties and responsibilities to Shana," adding: "Those close to Shana have testified that his actions affected her confidence in the police and may have prevented her from reporting Lane's continued harassment."

A report commissioned after Miss Grice's death found stalking and harassment offences were not being properly investigated by Sussex Police.

The panel was told she had an affair with Lane while seeing someone else and Mr Godfrey said there had been no sign of harassment, despite her making accusations to the contrary.

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Michael Lane was convicted of murdering Ms Grice in 2017

The ex-officer said she had admitted that on one occasion, Lane was outside her house at the time of an alleged assault because she had arranged the meeting behind her then-boyfriend's back.

He said: "She would be signing her texts [to Lane] with five kisses. This is not harassment. It was a smokescreen to disguise her affair."

There was therefore "no reason" to supply Ms Grice with safety advice because "there was nothing there to suggest she was in any form of danger whatsoever," he added.

Mark Aldred, representing Mr Godfrey, said his client was right to consider Ms Grice's misleading statement when deciding to recommend no further action be taken against Lane after he allegedly grabbed her phone and pulled her hair.

In a statement, Ms Grice's parents, Sharon Grice and Richard Green, said: "We can barely believe what we have witnessed these past two days. The panel allowed a wholesale character assassination of our daughter, who is obviously not here to defend herself."

They said Mr Godfrey's testimony "proved his discriminatory attitude, even accusing Shana of coercing Lane".

Lane, 27, was jailed for a minimum of 25 years in 2017 for murdering Ms Grice.

Assistant Chief Constable Jon Savell apologised for the "failures that have been highlighted in this and other misconduct hearings" and said the force was learning lessons about how it deals with stalking, harassment and domestic abuse.

Correction Wednesday 21 July 2019: An earlier version of this story stated Mr Godfrey would have been sacked due to his misconduct. This has been amended.

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