The parents of a teenage girl who was accused of wasting police time five months before she was murdered by her ex-boyfriend have condemned a disciplinary hearing against the police officer involved as a “sham”.
Trevor Godfrey, who retired from Sussex Police in 2017 after 29 years, was found to have committed misconduct.
He was told his actions did not amount to gross misconduct despite being serious at a hearing in Lewes - meaning he would not have been fired even if he were still working.
Shana Grice, 19, reported co-worker Michael Lane to police five times in six months, but was fined £90 for wasting police time before she was killed later that year.
Lane slit Grice’s throat before trying to burn her body at her Brighton home in August 2016. He was jailed for life for murder and imprisoned for a minimum of 25 years.
He pursued Grice by fitting a tracker to her car, stole a house key to sneak into her room while she slept and loitered outside her home. It later emerged 13 other women had reported Lane to police for stalking.
Sharon Grice and Richard Green, her parents, hit out at both the hearing and the decision to give Mr Godfrey the lesser disciplinary offence.
“We can barely believe what we have witnessed these past two days. The panel allowed a wholesale character assassination of our daughter, who is obviously not here to defend herself,” they said.
“Godfrey’s testimony only proved his discriminatory attitude, even accusing Shana of coercing Lane. We can barely believe what we have heard. The misconduct charge is a joke and the hearing a sham. Had Godfrey not retired, he would be allowed to carry on serving as a police officer.
“What message does this give to other officers? Even more importantly, what message does it send to victims? We are disgusted and feel thoroughly let down by the process. There is no justice.”
Grice was fined for wasting officers’ time after it emerged she initially failed to disclose the pair had previously been in a relationship. The case was closed before her appeals for help were properly investigated.
A report commissioned after the teenager died found stalking and harassment offences were not being properly investigated by Sussex Police.
The hearing was told how Mr Godfrey was a police constable tasked with investigating an allegation of common assault on 25 March 2016 after Grice claimed Lane chased and made physical contact with her while taking her phone from her ear.
During an interview, Grice made a number of other allegations against Lane, including that he had sent her unsolicited flowers and had made numerous attempts to contact her.
Lane was arrested and told Mr Godfrey the pair were in a relationship and provided details of mobile phone messages to back up his story.
Grice later admitted the pair were having an affair and during a phone call lasting less than a minute and a half, Mr Godfrey told Grice she would be fined for wasting police time over the harassment allegations – a decision ratified by police bosses.
Mr Godfrey stood by the decision when giving evidence to the misconduct panel. He told the hearing: “Absolutely, she did waste my time. I arrested someone as a result of her evidence on a false allegation. She had committed a criminal offence.”
He added: “She [Grice] lied to police three times. It was only right I advised her she cannot keep lying in police statements and getting people arrested for it.”
He said his colleague took the decision to give Grice 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,” he said.
James Berry, presenting the case against Mr Godfrey, accused him of applying an inaccurate stereotype that a woman could not be at risk from a man with she was in a relationship with.
“I don’t have those views … There was no history of violence between them, there was no evidence of violence, or risk, at that time,” Mr Godfrey replied.
Mr Berry said the former Sussex Police constable “did not show the expected level of diligence” when dealing with Grice’s allegation against Lane. He said there was a “serious failing” in Mr Godfrey not filling out a risk assessment form following this incident.
“Mr Godfrey’s handling of this case did not represent the impartiality expected of a police officer,” he added.
Panel chairman Victoria Goodfellow said: “Whilst these are clearly serious matters, they are not so serious as to amount to gross misconduct. We do not in any way attribute any blame or responsibility to Shana Grice for any action.”
But the panel nevertheless found Mr Godfrey failed to adequately investigate Grice’s allegations of harassment and stalking, as well as failing to treat her as a victim.
Mr Godfrey declined to comment as he left the hearing on Tuesday evening.
Sarah Green, of the Independent Office for Police Conduct, said: “Those close to Shana have testified that his actions affected her confidence in the police and may have prevented her from reporting Lane’s continued harassment.”
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