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Shana Grice: Officer’s failure to investigate stalking ‘may have contributed to woman’s death’ | UK News

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A police officer’s failure to investigate repeated claims by a 19-year-old that her ex-boyfriend was stalking her may have contributed to her death, a disciplinary hearing has found.

Shana Grice reported her ex-boyfriend Michael Lane to Sussex Police officers five times in six months but was fined for wasting police time and the case was dropped.

On 25 August 2016, Lane slit her throat before trying to burn her body.

He was jailed in 2017 for a minimum of 25 years.

The panel found two allegations of gross misconduct as proven after PC Mills – who resigned from the force last week – failed to “adequately investigate allegations of harassment and stalking” on two occasions just over a month before Ms Grice died.

The panel chairman Chiew Yin Jones said his action may have “ultimately contributed in the circumstances which contributed to the tragic death of Ms Grice”.

“The former officer was not diligent in his duties. In his dealings with Ms Grice, the officer failed to recognise her vulnerability.”

The disciplinary hearing heard that Ms Grice told the force she was too scared to leave her house as a result of Lane’s stalking.

Michael Lane, pictured during his trial at Lewes Crown Court
Image:
Michael Lane, pictured during his trial at Lewes Crown Court

On 9 July 2016, Ms Grice rang police after discovering Lane had stolen a house key and crept into her bedroom while she slept.

He was arrested but, despite there being a history of escalating reports of stalking and harassment, Mills as the investigating officer did not review notes on the case before questioning him.

Despite having served since 2003, and being an experienced officer in the investigations team, he questioned him for just 12 minutes and failed to ask about past incidents.

Lane was cautioned and warned to stay away from Ms Grice.

Mills also failed to respond to reports made by Ms Grice days later on 12 July, when she told police Lane had been following her in his car while she drove to work.

The force’s lawyer, Louise Ravenscroft said: “It is the force’s position that officers have a duty and responsibility to investigate fully all complaints, particularly complaints of domestic abuse and violence.”

Mills claimed he contacted Lane, but records showed it was actually Lane who called to speak to him and they did not discuss the matter, the panel heard.

When questioned, Mills admitted he had been “alarmed” by some of Lane’s behaviour and said his failure to properly question him had been an oversight.

Had he not resigned, the panel said Mills would have been dismissed from the force – the maximum penalty a police misconduct hearing can impose.

He will be barred from ever working as a police officer again.

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