Start your claim

August 12th 2019

Inquests

The murder of Shana Grice: why police attitudes must change

Andrew Petherbridge

Andrew Petherbridge

Legal Executive and Head of Civil Liberties

The murder of Shana Grice: why police attitudes must change

Shana Grice was killed by her former stalker boyfriend in August 2016, despite repeatedly reporting her concerns to Sussex Police. Instead, officers gave Shana Grice a penalty notice for wasting their time.

Shana Grice was killed by her former stalker boyfriend in August 2016, despite repeatedly reporting her concerns to Sussex Police. Instead, officers gave Shana Grice a penalty notice for wasting their time.

Five months later she was dead, killed by her former boyfriend, Michael Lane.

Lane was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing Shana. At his trial, the judge, Mr Justice Green, was scathing of Sussex Police’s treatment of Ms Grice, saying:

“You jumped to conclusions.

“In other words, she was treated as the wrongdoer and having committed a criminal offence, and Michael Lane was treated as the victim.

“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.”

I now act for Shana’s parents, Sharon Grice and Richard Green, in their fight for justice. It has, and continues to be, a long road to justice for them.

Sussex Police were subject to an Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) report, from which several learning recommendations were made, and they have made changes in response. But it’s too little, too late. The reality is that a young girl took her concerns to the police and instead of being protected was herself treated like a criminal.

Shana paid for the police’s prejudice and stereotyping with her life.

Stalking is a life-changing crime for its victims and as evidenced by Shana’s case, can lead to the most tragic of consequences if not tackled.

Unfortunately, cases of this nature are far more common than they should be. My colleague, Vicky Richardson, acts for the family of Katrina O’Hara. Katrina was murdered by her former partner in January 2016, like Shana, she had aired her concerns to her local police force in Dorset about threats being made to her by her former partner, Stuart Thomas.

Dorset Police were also subject to an IOPC report, where failings were identified, and officers faced misconduct charges. And again, like Sussex Police, the force made changes.

The same can be said of West Midlands Police in the case of Jacqueline Oakes, whose family I also represent.

Jacqueline, who had a long history of mental health issues, was found dead in an Edgbaston tower block in January 2014. She died from multiple blunt force injuries. Her former partner Marcus Musgrove was found guilty of her murder and sentenced to a minimum of 18 years in July 2014.

During the previous 10 months, a catalogue of verbal, physical and sexual abuse and harassment by Musgrove were reported by Jacqueline and her friends to West Midlands Police and various support services.

An IPCC (now the IOPC) investigation in 2017 found that Ms Oakes was let down by a raft of procedural errors and 19 police officers and staff were found to have a case to answer for misconduct.

In Shana’s case two police officers faced charges of gross misconduct: PC Mills, who has now resigned, was found guilty of gross misconduct for failing to adequately investigate a complaint made by Shana after Lane let himself into her house with a stolen key and entered her bedroom. Had he not resigned he would have been dismissed.

More worryingly, however, was the charge against PC Trevor Godfrey. It was Godfrey who concluded that Shana’s complaints were dishonest and shockingly issued Shana with a penalty notice for time wasting.

At a recent disciplinary panel, his charge for gross misconduct was downgraded to misconduct.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, at the disciplinary hearing, Shana’s parents were subjected to a character assassination of their daughter by Godfrey as he attempted to clear his name.

Speaking after the hearing, Richard and Sharon said: “Godfrey’s testimony only proved his discriminatory attitude, even accusing Shana of coercing Lane. We can barely believe what we have heard.

“To add insult to injury, we have been subjected to aggressive and bullying tactics from Godfrey’s representatives, yet we were the ones accused of trying to intimate him.”

Had Godfrey not retired, he would be allowed to carry on serving as a police officer. We need to ask ourselves what kind of message this sends to police officers about the way they treat victims? But, even more importantly, what message does it send to already afraid victims?

Yet there’s a scenario being repeated up and down the country even now, where victims of domestic abuse and stalking are characterised as criminals and troublemakers. They are often seen as “bringing it on themselves”.

There are some stark similarities between Shana’s, Katrina’s and Jacqueline’s tragic cases, namely: all three were women left vulnerable by men they had been in relationships with, all three went to the police for help and all three died in wholly avoidable circumstances.

All three also serve as a reminder to the police of their duty to protect the lives of those they are in contact with, no matter what the circumstances.

Not only should our police officers be held to a higher standard, deep-seated attitudes about victims and unconscious bias must be eliminated completely. Otherwise, tragic cases like Shana, Katrina and Jacqueline will continue to occur.

Andy Petherbridge is Head of Civil Liberties at Hudgell Solicitors

What Our Clients Say

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Anthony and his team at Hudgell…"

Anthony and his team at Hudgell solicitors are extremely professional and caring People. From the first phone conversation right through to completion i was always kept updated, if i had any concerns and contacted them, they were always happy to listen and put my mind at rest. I would highly…

Mrs lisa martinJanuary 21, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent service"

Great service . Made me feel at ease . Proffesional and very quick to respond to any questions or concerns I would highly reccomend

LesleyJanuary 21, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent service"

Excellent service

JensonJanuary 21, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent service"

Excellent service, Alex Garven was most helpful in dealing with my claim. Many thanks for his hard work in getting a result for me,. It took quite a while but during that time I received regular progress updates and a quick response if I had any queries .

Jill ElliottJanuary 15, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Lauren Dale"

Lauren Dale was so sensitive when dealing with my mums claim and she totally understood what i really wanted from the outcome. she kept me fully informed of everything, as and when it happened. I cannot thank her enough for her help and understanding on such a sensitive case. 5…

Jane from North YorkshieJanuary 11, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent Service"

Excellent, professional and friendly solicitors. It was a very simple process and they kept in constant contact to update me on any developments. Would definitely recommend.

Philippa January 09, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Could not have been simpler or easier"

Could not have been simpler or easier, they did everything required and more. Nice, pleasant to talk to, they do all the leg work, put everything into context and resolve as quick as possible. Hopefully will not have to use again but if a situation arises then would not hesitate…

DarrenJanuary 08, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Very helpful and always kept in touch…"

Very helpful and always kept in touch via email through the while process. Highly recommended

Joseph Conrad Waudby January 07, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Brilliant customer service"

Brilliant customer service, always will contact you as they say they will. Have been very helpful with my case and explained the process thoroughly, very easy to understand. Would definitely recommend.

Julia MatildaJanuary 07, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Verry happy with the result they got…"

Verry happy with the result they got for my claim very officiant and professional my particular solicitor was the most friendly official type person that I have dealt with before really happy with the freindly kind manner in which they dealt with myself and my claim I would recommend them…

Richard RobertsJanuary 07, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Very impressed with the fast turn…"

Very impressed with the fast turn around of Hudgell. Very responsive and friendly too.

CustomerJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Wonderful service"

Wonderful service, was kept up to date regularly and once they received an offer to settle my case, they advised that they could get a better offer and did just that, will definitely pick up the phone again if I ever require their services in future.

Jordan HowarthJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"These solicitors were very helpful and…"

These solicitors were very helpful and I was surprised when they told me that they were pursuing a totally different avenue to the one I thought was available. They were very efficient, constantly in communication with myself and were direct with the opposite party. Needless to say, they won my…

GARY COSGROVEJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Take a leaf out of there book"

I would certainly recommend Was kept up to date via email promptly each time I asked a question Postal and email correspondence was fluent and my claim settled in a timely manner Many thanks to Alex and his hard work

Mandy Michelle WainwrightJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Couldn’t of chose a better solicitors…"

Couldn’t of chose a better solicitors to go through my claim with, Sarah informed me every step of the way (even when they was nothing to update me with) was such a quick process and she couldn’t of been more helpful ! 5*

Courtney FriendJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"karl griffin fantastic man"

karl griffin was fantastic extremely helpful and fought every step of the way for me he was always there whenever i needed him i highly recommend hudgell solicitors to anyone who needs there help they made a horrible situation dissappear

Jeni DaleJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Alex is amazing"

Alex is amazing! He took over my claim and everything changed from negative to positive. Case still ongoing but fantastic service so far from Alex. Great communication - answering calls and emails. Spot on in everything. I am very glad he is handling my case now and I am confident…

Seth OppongDecember 27, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Highly recommended"

Excellent service and communication from start to finish. The whole process of handling my personal injury claim was dealt with quickly and courteously.

MikeNovember 26, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Becci was amazing"

Becci was amazing, she was so friendly and helpful and couldn’t have done a better job at helping me with my claim. Very happy.

Katherine JanineNovember 08, 2019