Ex-Pc who accused Shana Grice of wasting police time committed misconduct
A former police constable who accused teenager Shana Grice of wasting officers’ time, five months before she was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, has been found to have committed misconduct.
But Trevor Godfrey was told that while his actions were serious, they did not amount to gross misconduct, meaning the former Sussex Police constable would not have been sacked even if he were still a serving officer.
Mr Godfrey declined to comment as he left the hearing in Lewes on Tuesday evening, while Sussex Police said it was learning lessons about how it deals with stalking, harassment and domestic abuse.
Ms Grice’s parents described the hearing as “a sham”.
Sharon Grice and Richard Green said in a statement: “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.
“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.”
Ms Grice, 19, was murdered by violent co-worker Michael Lane at her home in Brighton on August 25 2016.
It later emerged that she reported her former boyfriend to police five times in six months but was fined for wasting officers’ time after it was discovered she misled them in initially failing to disclose the pair had previously been in a relationship.
The case was closed before her pleas for help were properly investigated.
The two-day misconduct panel found a series of failures, including that Mr Godfrey:
– Did not adequately investigate new information in a claim of harassment by Ms Grice
– Failed to be diligent and treat Ms Grice as a victim
– Failed to pay sufficient regard to Ms Grice’s fears
– Failed to provide evidence of carrying out a risk assessment over Ms Grice’s potential to be a victim at the hands of Lane
The panel found an allegation that Mr Godfrey stereotyped Ms Grice to be unproven, while his actions around the risk assessment did not amount to discreditable conduct.
Panel chairman Victoria Goodfellow said: “Whilst these are clearly serious matters, they are not so serious as to amount to gross misconduct.
“By making this finding, we do not in any way seek to detract from the tragic consequences of what followed in events which we have not been asked to consider, and we do not in any way attribute any blame or responsibility to Shana Grice for any action.”
There was little emotion shown from either Mr Godfrey or Ms Grice’s family as the verdicts were read out.
The hearing was told how Mr Godfrey was a police constable tasked with investigating an allegation of common assault on March 25 2016 after Ms Grice claimed Lane chased and made physical contact with her while taking her phone from her ear.
During an interview, Ms 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.
However, after being arrested, Lane told Mr Godfrey the pair were actually in a relationship – and provided details of mobile phone messages between the couple which backed his story.
Ms Grice later confessed the pair were having an affair behind the back of her then-boyfriend Ashley Cooke.
Mr Godfrey, during an 84-second phone call to Ms Grice, informed her 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.
Counsel James Berry, who put the allegations to Mr Godfrey, said the former officer “did not show the expected level of diligence” when dealing with Ms 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.
He added: “Mr Godfrey’s handling of this case did not represent the impartiality expected of a police officer.”
Lane, 27, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 25 years after being convicted of her murder.
Speaking after the hearing, Assistant Chief Constable Jon Savell said: “Firstly, I’d like to offer my condolences and thoughts to Shana’s family at this awful time, and to reiterate personally and on behalf of the force an apology for what has gone on and the failures that have been highlighted in this and other misconduct hearings.
“I and all my colleagues come to work to help the public and protect them.”
He denied the case was a witch-hunt against Mr Godfrey.
Sarah Green, of the Independent Office for Police Conduct, said: “Pc Godfrey has been found to have committed misconduct for failing in his duties and responsibilities towards Shana, and for acting unfairly towards her by not further exploring the context of her relationship with Mr Lane, and by effectively reaching a conclusion without making proper enquiry.
“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.”
Just two of 14 officers and staff investigated by the IOPC over Ms Grice’s death were made the subject of publicly-held disciplinary proceedings.