The murder of a 19-year-old by her stalker after she reported him to the police five times has been described as ‘avoidable’ by the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC).
Sussex police actually fined Shana Grice £90 for ‘wasting police time’ on one the many occasion she reached out to them for help.
Shana, a receptionist from Brighton, had begged police to take action against Michael Lane five times over a period of six months in 2016 but her pleas were ignored, despite him breaking into her home, and he went on to slit her throat before trying to burn her body in August 2016.
In March that year she was fined £90 by Sussex Police for wasting their time because she did not tell officers they had been in a relationship after she reported Lane for pulling her hair and grabbing her phone.
Shana’s heart-breaking death featured in Sky Crime documentary ‘Murder in Slow Motion’.
When Lane first broke into Shana’s home he was given a police caution, six weeks later he broke into her home again, walked into her bedroom and murdered her after learning she was in a new relationship.
In March 2017, Lane, then 27, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 25 years for Shana’s murder.
Tom Milsom from the IOPC, says Sussex Police didn’t understand “the difference between a spat between two individuals and harassing behaviour” so Shana was “failed”.
He said: “You really need to listen to the victim and I don’t think that happened to Shana,” he says. “She was let down.”
Shana was just 18 and had started a new job at a fire alarm firm when she met Lane who was eight years older and a mechanic at the same company.
The teenager had moved into a new house with two other girls and Lane started lavishing her with attention.
A move that ‘may have felt romantic’ but was the beginning of Lane’s controlling behaviour. Shana secretly dated Lane for a few months after breaking up with her long-term boyfriend Ashley Cooke.
However, she called it off when he became volatile and possessive but Lane refused to let her go.
He bombarded Shana with messages, sent her flowers for her 19th birthday, put a tracker device on her car and turned up unannounced at the home she shared with her two friends even though she had reconciled with Ashley.
Shana called the police in February 2016 and the female call handler phoned Lane and warned him to stay away.
Lane then turned up to her house with her two flatmates after an office party a month later.
After fleeing to her current partner’s house, Shana was interviewed by police in front of her boyfriend and failed to mention she used to date Lane. Officers found out after speaking to Lane, who claimed they were together.
Shana was deemed a liar by police and fined £90 for wasting police time with PC Trevor Godfrey, the officer who interviewed her, claiming the complaint was “a smoke screen to disguise her affair.”
She quit her job and her friends said the fine dented her confidence, making her reluctant to report Lane’s continuous stalking campaign.
In July 2016, Lane stole her back door key and crept into the house in the middle of the night, when he thought she was sleeping. Hiding under a duvet, Shane recorded a disturbing message, in which Lane said: “I wanted to see you and I knew you wouldn’t let me in.
“I’m just not right in the head, otherwise I wouldn’t do it.”
After officers were handed the recording, Lane was let off with another caution.
The next day, Shane received heavy breathing calls from an unlisted number, which she also reported and told the police she was scared but they declared she was a ‘low risk’.
Two days later, she told police Lane was following her but her claims were dismissed and she was sent a letter saying no further action would be taken.
On August 25, 2016 Lane bought a can of petrol and broke into her home armed with a knife. He walked into her bedroom and slashed her throat before dousing her body in petrol and setting it alight.
Lane was arrested within hours but denied killing her despite CCTV evidence proving he had been at her house.
After Lane’s sentencing, Shana’s family slammed police, saying they believed her murder could have been prevented if officers had listened to her fears about Lane. Her mum said in a victim impact statement read on her behalf: “We brought Shana up to respect authority and to always respect the law.
‘’We firmly believe her murder could have been prevented if her fears had been listened to and taken seriously by the police.”
At a subsequent enquiry PC John Milne was found guilty of gross misconduct and PC Godfrey of misconduct.
Sussex Police have apologised the family.