A former Brighton police officer has been found guilty of misconduct for his part in the Shana Grice case.
But PC Trevor Godfrey was cleared of gross misconduct at the end of a two-day disciplinary hearing in Lewes today (Tuesday 30 July).
The retired officer had denied wrongdoing when he investigated a claim that Michael Lane had assaulted Miss Grice in March 2016.
Despite an admission by Lane, the officer recommended that no further action be taken.
Five months later Lane, then 27, murdered 19-year-old Miss Grice at her home in Chrisdory Road, in Mile Oak.
Victoria Goodfellow, who chaired the disciplinary panel, said: “While we found that Mr Godfrey’s unfair treatment of Miss Grice was serious, we do consider that was as a result of him not taking the time or effort to sufficiently consider the context and the sensitivities of the circumstances that Shana faced at the time rather than a wilful decision to treat her otherwise than fairly.
“Having taken all the matters we found into consideration, and bearing in mind the seriousness of each allegation both individually and cumulatively, we find that, while these are clearly serious matters, they are not so serious as to amount to gross misconduct.
“By making this finding, we do not seek in any way 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.
“Our task was to consider the actions of Mr Godfrey … to which we have confined ourselves.
“We repeat our condolences to her family and friends.”
The panel was told that Mr Godfrey had concerns that Lane – a work colleague of Miss Grice at Brighton Fire Alarms – was stalking and harassing her.
When he interviewed her, she denied having had a sexual relationship with Lane.
But when Mr Godfrey interviewed Lane, he produced pages of text messages suggesting that they were in a relationship.
Mr Godfrey decided that would not make a credible witness and recommended no further action be taken against Lane. Inspector Jason Hazzard accepted the recommendation.
After this, Mr Godfrey made an 84-second phone call to Miss Grice to give her strong words of advice.
The panel said that he did not “allow her sufficient time to explain the context of her misleading statements”.
A colleague at Brighton, Sergeant Stone, decided that Miss Grice should receive a £90 fixed penalty notice fine for wasting police time.
The disciplinary panel found that Mr Godfrey had failed to follow the proper procedures to assess the risk of domestic abuse. He also failed to give her appropriate safety advice.
Mr Godfrey retired at the end of 2017 and faces no further action or sanction.
A colleague, former PC Jon Barry Mills, was found guilty of gross misconduct in May for his role in the lead up to Miss Grice’s death. He is barred from being a police officer for five years.
A report by the Independent Office of Police Complaints into the handling of the case by Sussex Police is expected to be published soon.
Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne has pushed for a better approach by police to domestic abuse and violence, stalking and harassment – not just in locally but across the country.