British teen fined for wasting police's time for reporting stalker weeks before she was murdered

Michael Lane and Shana Grice.
Michael Lane and Shana Grice. Photo credit: Getty, Sussex Police

A British teenager was fined by police for wasting their time by reporting her stalker ex-boyfriend, just weeks before he killed her.

Shana Grice, a 19-year-old receptionist, was murdered by Michael Lane at her home in Brighton in August 2016. 

The case has been featured in a new Sky Crime documentary Murder in Slow Motion which was released over the weekend.

Grice met 26-year-old mechanic Lane while working at a fire alarm firm, The Sun reported.

They had a brief relationship, but Grice ended it when Lane became volatile and aggressive.

In the weeks which followed, Lane bombarded her with texts, sent her flowers, slashed her car's tyres, broke into her home and targeted her new boyfriend Ashley Cooke.

Frightened by the escalating behaviour, Grice reported Lane to the Sussex police five times in six months but they dismissed her worries.

They even fined Grice NZ$175 for wasting police's time because she failed to disclose they had previously been in a relationship.

But on August 25, 2016, Lane waited until Grice was home alone, then he murdered her and set fire to her bedroom, the Guardian reported.

During sentencing, where Lane was jailed for life with a minimum term of 25 years, a judge condemned police for their handling of the complaints.

"She was treated as the wrongdoer and having committed a criminal offence, Michael Lane was treated as the victim," Justice Green 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."

Grice's parents Sharon and Richard, said they believed their daughter would still be alive if Sussex police had acted on her complaints.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Sussex police addressed the "renewed interest" following the documentary.

"We have long accepted we made mistakes in this tragic case and again apologise for the failures highlighted," a spokesperson said. 

"What happened should not have happened and we have learned many lessons. We have since invested more resources, delivered better training and improved processes to prevent this from happening to anyone else."

They said three police officers had since faced misconduct hearings and a further three police officers and three members of police staff received management advice and training.

"Of the three that underwent hearings, one case of gross misconduct was found proved, one was not, and the third faced internal proceedings and was given a final written warning for conduct.

"We remain committed to further improvements and we encourage women to come forward with the knowledge that our officers and staff are better trained and will take all reports seriously."