Every third day, in our #EveryThreeDays campaign, I write about a woman killed by a man. Previously this month, we have remembered Miriam Nyazema, Denisa Silmen, Jan Bennett, Simonne Kerr, Laura Holden Jane Wiggett, Katelyn Parker and on the 22nd of August, Elife Beqa,34 from Solihull.
Today we remember Shana Grice, murdered exactly five years ago today, 25th August 2016 and for the first time, I am going to refer to Wikipedia at length because Shana’s murder was both complicated and truly horrifying.
Shana Grice was a British teenager who an ex-boyfriend (Michael Lane) murdered after he had stalked her. The murder led to criticism of Sussex Police for its failure to take Shana Grice’s complaints of stalking seriously. Shana had met Michael Lane in 2015 when they both worked at Brighton Fire Alarms together. Lane was from Thornhill Rise, Portslade, near Brighton -they formed a relationship, and Lane had become obsessed with her. He refused to accept the breakup and said to a friend “She’ll pay for what she’s done”.
THE BASIC FACTS:
Michael Lane stalked her after breaking up with him and returning to her previous boyfriend, Ashley Cooke. Lane put a tracker device on her car, which notified him via his mobile phone every time the car moved.
On the 8th February 2016, Grice complained to police about being stalked by Lane after receiving unwanted flowers and damage to her car.
On the 24th March, Lane snatched her phone and grabbed her hair. He was arrested on suspicion of assault but later released. Grice was issued a fixed penalty notice by the police for wasting their time for not disclosing she had been in a relationship with him.
On the 9th July, Lane used a stolen key to let himself into her home and watch her while she was apparently sleeping. She was actually awake, had heard his footsteps and hid under the duvet. She heard a man breathing in her room. Shortly afterwards, the man left, and when Grice looked out her window, she saw Lane walking away. He was arrested for theft, given a police caution and told to stay away from Grice.
The following day, she received around seven phone calls from a blocked number, including one with heavy breathing. She was told there were no further lines of inquiry and the case would be left on file.
On the 12th July, she reported to police that she was being followed by Lane Police treated the case as “low risk”, but that the investigating officer would be made aware.
On the 4th August, she saw Lane loitering outside her home. She confided in her friend Joann Pumphrey that she was afraid that police wouldn’t believe her because of her previous fine for wasting police time. Although Joann was a witness to this, sadly Shana didn’t report the incident to the police.
On the 25th August, Lane waited until Grice was alone at home, then let himself in, slit her throat and set fire to her bedroom. She was 19 years old at the time of her murder and her killer was 27 years old. Her body was found by Ian Cooke, her boyfriend’s father.
Michael Lane was arrested the same day. He initially lied to police about his movements that day, before admitting that he had gone to Shana Grice’s home. Lane claimed that he had found the front door open, then found Shana’s body in her bedroom. He claimed that he panicked, then left the scene without dialling 999, checking Shana’s vital signs or telling his family what he had found. Lane claimed that he only kept quiet about what he had seen because he was afraid of being accused of her murder.
Lane was subsequently found guilty of murder at Lewes Crown Court, sentenced to life with a minimum term of twenty-five years. But that was far from the end of the matter with Shana’s parents launching a huge campaign against Sussex police claiming (understandably) that Shana would still be alive today had they acted differently.
The Wikipedia entry continues.
Shana Grice’s parents, Sharon Grice and Richard Green said their daughter would still be alive if Sussex Police had acted on her complaints. The judge, Justice Green, also criticised the police. During sentencing, he said,
“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”.
Sussex Police also revealed that Michael Lane had been the subject of complaints from 13 other women. Most of the complaints related to the three years before Shana Grice’s murder, except for one which allegedly occurred within the preceding 10 years.
A domestic homicide review report concluded that Michael Lane had harassed 12 girls and young women between 2006 and 2016, and he had been arrested over claims he groomed a 14-year-old girl. He was not charged over the 2010 grooming allegation, which was marked on his arrest record, but it was not noted when Shana Grice reported him for harassment.
The allegation dates to when he was a volunteer scout leader. After his arrest, he resigned from the Scouts. He was told the allegation would be considered if he tried to rejoin the organisation, but when he did so in 2015 Lane was not recognised as a past member, and he volunteered for several months. The failure to recognise him was put down to a “temporary glitch in the IT system”
The report said that Lane had “used youth movements, which appealed to young women and girls, to allow him access to victims.”
The report also mentioned an account of Lane being “very controlling” in another relationship, of him bombarding women with explicit messages, loitering outside their homes, pestering women to sleep with him for money, harassing two women he met in a pub and sexually assaulting another woman.
In August 2019 it was announced that Sussex Police would no longer fine people reporting domestic abuse for wasting police time.
Authored by Steph @PlaceSteph