19-year-old Shana Grice was found with her throat slashed in her bedroom in Portslade, East Sussex, England last August. Two attempts to set the building on fire were discovered. The teen’s ex-boyfriend, Michael Lane, 27, is standing trial for murder. And according to a report from The Independent, the court has now heard testimony that Grice was fined for wasting police time after reporting to police that Lane was stalking her.
Grice reported to the police in February, 2016, that Lane was stalking her after he allegedly left flowers at her house, hid outside, and left a note reading “Dear Ash, Shana has and will always cheat on you. Happy New Year,” on the car of another of Grice’s ex-boyfriends, Ashley Cooke, with whom she tried to rekindle a relationship.
Allegedly, according to The Telegraph, her relationship with Mr. Cooke was the motive for her murder. Jurors were told that Lane became “obsessed” with her after the two reconnected.
The teen took all of this information to the police, along with a report that her car tires had been deflated. One month later, she reported that Lane had assaulted her, showing up uninvited on her road after leaving a pub with her friends. Allegedly, Lane accosted the teenage girl, pulled her hair, and attempted to grab her phone.
Lane denied her report and showed police text messages which suggested that Grice wanted to be with him – not untypical in assault cases, where the burden of proof placed on victims is frequently set unrealistically high: The Independent reported in 2014 that English and Welsh police do a “substandard job” when it comes to taking domestic violence reports from women seriously. The Telegraph reported concerns in 2013 that they weren’t taking rape reports seriously, either.
Police charged Ms. Grice with “having caused wasteful employment of police by making a false report” because she failed to disclose the nature of her past relationship with Lane. The police issued her a fixed penalty notice – essentially, a ticket – for filing the report.
On July 9, 2016, Shana Grice was speaking to police again. Lane allegedly stole a back door key from her home, let himself in, and watched her sleeping. He then left.
It is unclear how these facts were concluded, but police cautioned Lane to stay away from Grice. The following day, she reported receiving seven calls from a blocked number, one featuring heavy breathing, which she believed were related to the previous night’s incident. Two days later, she reported that Lane was following her. Police told her that there were no further lines of inquiry to pursue and that her report would remain on file; the incidents were treated internally as “low risk.”
A month and change later, Lane allegedly watched and waited until Grice was alone in her home, let himself in, cut her throat, and set her bedroom on fire. The smoke alarm was found disabled. Lane and Grice met when they worked together at Brighton Fire Alarms. Pieces of it were found under her bed.
Lane allegedly told a friend, “She’ll pay for what she’s done,” when he found out about Grice’s rekindled relationship with Ashley Cooke. A tracking device was found on her car.
Michael Lane admits to stealing a key and letting himself into her house while she was sleeping. He told the court that he wanted to “find out why we ended so abruptly.”
“I just wanted some answers for why the relationship had ended. I thought I shouldn’t be there.”
He denied most other allegations, but admitted to leaving the note on Cooke’s car. He claimed that Shana had been “cheating” on Cooke with himself and another man named Wayne. He admitted to placing a tracking device on her car, but could not articulate why.
Michael Lane continues to deny his involvement in Shana Grice’s murder. The trial continues, and he is entitled to a fair trial.
But many are now left wondering if a teenage girl’s life could have been saved if police had taken her just a little more seriously.
[Featured Image by Sussex Police]