A police officer who retired after being implicated in the Shana Grice scandal has defended the decision to formally warn the teenager for wasting police time, weeks before she was murdered by her former boyfriend.
Trevor Godfrey told a misconduct panel that he found inconsistencies in Shana Grice’s account of being harassed by Michael Lane and that issuing the warning was the “lenient option”.
19-year-old Grice was murdered in Portslade, near Brighton, East Sussex, in 2016. Lane slit her throat in her bedroom then tried to burn her body.
She had previously reported her ex-boyfriend to officers five times in six months, but was fined £90 for wasting police time.
The case was closed before her pleas for help were properly investigated.
A report commissioned after Grice’s death found that stalking and harassment offences were not being properly investigated by Sussex Police.
Godfrey is one of two police officers who are facing a gross misconduct hearing over their handling of the case.
The former PC, who retired from Sussex Police in 2017 after 29 years, is accused of failing to adequately investigate.
Asked about his decision to issue a formal warning, he said it was the “lenient option” as she initially failed to disclose she had been in a relationship with Lane.
Godfrey described this as “a bit of a bombshell”.
The hearing was told Godfrey later informed Grice, during a phone call lasting less than a minute-and-a-half, that her evidence of being harassed by Lane was discredited.
James Berry, presenting the case against Godfrey, accused the former police officer of leaving Grice with the “clear impression” that she was wasting police time and had committed a criminal offence.
Godfrey replied: “Absolutely, she did waste my time. I arrested someone (Lane) as a result of her evidence on a false allegation.
“She had committed a criminal offence – I don’t get what you’re trying to get at here.”
Asked by his own counsel Michael Aldred about the case, Godfrey added: “I took the lenient view that a warning was sufficient.
He said his colleague took the decision to issue the teenager with a £90 fine.
“His decision, which I don’t disagree with, was that she should not be able to get away with making false statements.”
Godfrey told the hearing how his only involvement with the 19-year-old was when police were called in March 2016 after Lane pulled her hair and tried to grab her mobile phone.
No further action was taken against Lane, but Grice was issued with a £90 fixed penalty notice for failing to disclose she had been in a relationship with the older man, and for “having caused wasteful employment of police by making a false report”.
A judge later said police “jumped to conclusions” and “stereotyped” Grice for not thinking a woman in a relationship could not also be abused by that partner.
Her family – who were present at the misconduct hearing – said the murder could have been prevented if officers had taken their daughter’s complaints seriously. Lane was subsequently jailed for a minimum of 25 years.
The hearing, which eventually got under way on Monday afternoon after an application from Godfrey’s legal team to remove some of the allegations were dismissed by the misconduct panel, is due to resume on Tuesday.
Police officers can lose access to their pensions if misconduct allegations are proven.