The young woman was just 19 when her stalker decided to make her life hell.
When Shana Grice of Brighton, UK, went to the Sussex police to report her stalker, Michael Lane, she thought that they would help her out. Instead, over the course of five months in 2016, she had to beg for them to take action. And their inaction led to her death.
18-year-old Shana had broken up with her long-term boyfriend Ashley Cooke and began dating Michael, who was a mechanic at the fire alarm firm where she worked as a receptionist, according to the Daily Mail. For a few months, the new couple were together but it was kept a secret.
However, the teenager broke it off when she noticed how possessive Michael had become. She then went back to Ashley. As Shana rekindled her previous relationship, she was hounded by Michael who constantly messaged her, slashed her tyres, and vandalized her car with the words "Shana will always cheat on you. Happy New Year." He went to the extent of planting a tracking device on her car bumper so he knew where she was, stole her keys, and camped out around her house.
Shana, who by the time was 19, had gone to the police in February 2016 to report Michael's aggressive behavior towards her, which involved him pulling her hair and grabbing her phone. Nothing much was done about her concern though. Even when he broke into her house, he was only slapped with a police caution. Then in March 2016, Sussex police turned the tables on her and fined her £90 for wasting their time as she hadn't mentioned beforehand that the two had been in a relationship.
She was branded a "liar" and police constable Trevor Godfrey "saw it as a lover's tiff, teenagers having a tumultuous relationship, so she wasn't taken seriously,” said forensic psychologist Kerry Dayes to The Sun. “She was stereotyped as a woman having a secret affair and was causing trouble when in fact, she was trying desperately to help. What they didn’t acknowledge is that you can be in an on-off relationship with someone and still be frightened, still be the victim of stalking. And the fact that a relationship had previously existed makes the level of risk greater.” Six weeks later, Michael's actions escalated where he broke into her house again, slit her throat and killed her before trying to burn her body.
Tom Milsom of the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) believed that the concerned authorities didn't understand "the difference between a spat between two individuals and harassing behaviour," which led to Shana being "failed." He explained, "You really need to listen to the victim and I don't think that happened to Shana. She was let down," according to the Daily Mail.
During an investigation conducted, two retired officers were found negligent of pursuing a line of questioning regarding the teenager's repeated complaints. While one was convicted of gross misconduct and the other one convicted of misconduct, a written warning was given to another cop after an internal misconduct hearing, according to BBC. Assistant Chief Constable Jon Savell said the team "accepted that we made mistakes in this case" and had "significantly improved our response and remain committed to further improvements."
Kerry explained how Shana's story is an example of why women are generally terrified of reporting crimes, given the attitude when it comes to female vicitims. "This is such a tragic murder and all the more so because it was avoidable," she said to The Sun. "The case typifies why women have little faith in the police and why they often don't report incidents because they are not confident they will get the help that they need."
Finally, in March 2017, 27-year-old Michael was sentenced to jail for life with a minimum term of 25 years for Shana's murder. After the conviction, the slain woman's family said, “We are relieved that the man that killed our precious Shana, our only child, will serve a long and deserved prison sentence. We firmly believe Shana would be alive today if Sussex police had acted to protect her on the many occasions she complained about Lane, rather than issue her with a fine for wasting police time.”
Cover image source: Youtube | ITV News