The parents of a teenager who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend after repeatedly reporting him to police have lost a High Court bid for a full inquest into her death.
Shana Grice was 19 when she was killed by Michael Lane at her home in Brighton, East Sussex, in August 2016.
Neil Hudgell of Hudgell Solicitors, who represented Ms Grice’s family, said in a statement: ‘This ruling is hugely disappointing.
‘It is also unfortunate coming on Christmas Eve, when thoughts naturally turn to our loved ones.
‘We will now need to take some time to consider the ruling with Shana’s family and decide on our next steps.’
Shana Grice was 19 when she was killed by Michael Lane at her home in Brighton, East Sussex, in August 2016. Her parents launched a High Court bid for a full inquest into her death
Lane slashed the teenager’s throat in 2016 after a terrifying campaign of harassment.
Miss Grice had reported Lane, who was jailed for life after being found guilty of her murder, to officers five times in the six months before her death.
But she feared officers would not believe her and she was fined £90 for wasting police time.
At a remote High Court hearing earlier in December, lawyers representing Ms Grice’s mother Sharon Grice, in whose name the case has been brought, challenged the decision of the senior coroner for Brighton and Hove not to conduct a full inquest into her death.
They argued that a ‘full, independent and focused inquest’ was necessary to consider whether her death could have been avoided and ‘how to prevent a similar tragedy happening again’.
Kirsty Brimelow QC, for Ms Grice’s parents, said previous inquiries – including Lane’s trial, a domestic homicide review, an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation, police misconduct proceedings and an inspection into Sussex Police’s handling of stalking cases – had not satisfied the ‘overwhelming public interest’ in the case.
Ms Brimelow said: ‘Ms Grice was only 19-years-old. She was vulnerable.
A jury found her ex-boyfriend Michael Lane (pictured left) guilty of murder following trial at Lewes Crown Court in 2017 (pictured right, outside court)
‘She lost her life in a brutal and violent way. Her death was avoidable if Sussex Police had not acted as they did and had actually acted to protect her life.
‘There are recorded failings by Sussex Police but little scrutiny of those in a senior position or of the culture of Sussex Police towards young women suffering stalking and harassment.
‘It is in the public interest to have the widest possible exposure to the circumstances which led to Ms Grice’s murder.’
She said the context of Ms Grice’s murder needs to be considered, as it had emerged after her death that 12 other women were subjected to stalking and harassment by Lane in the months before her murder.
Ms Brimelow added: ‘Ms Grice attempted to access help and was cast as the wrongdoer by Sussex Police.
‘Ms Grice’s murder is a killing which took place due to positive decision-making by many officers in Sussex Police. They had a duty to protect her.’
Lane, then aged 27, slit Ms Grice’s throat before attempting to set fire to her body on August 26 2016.
In the weeks before he savagely attacked Miss Grice, Lane had crept into her room while she was sleeping, made silent phone calls to her and even fitted a tracker on her car.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 25 years at Lewes Crown Court in March 2017.
The teen reported Lane to Sussex Police five times but instead she was fined £90 for wasting police time. Jailing Lane in 2017, the sentencing judge said officers ‘stereotyped’ Ms Grice before her death and failed to take her reports seriously
The sentencing judge said officers ‘stereotyped’ Ms Grice before her death and failed to take her reports seriously.
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.
Both left Sussex Police before the hearings were due to take place.
One was found to have committed gross misconduct when he ignored Ms Grice’s repeated stalking reports and a less serious finding of misconduct was made against another in July last year.
Following the disciplinary process, Ms Grice’s parents Sharon Grice and Richard Green described the hearing as ‘a sham’ and claimed the tribunal’s panel allowed a ‘wholesale character assassination’ of their daughter.
Ms Brimelow said Ms Grice’s parents ‘did not have faith in the independence of the misconduct panels’ as they were not able to participate and felt ‘intimidated’ while attending, and have been left with ‘many painful questions’.
The body of Shana Grice, 19, was found at a house in Chrisdory Road, Mile Oak, Portslade, after she failed to turn up for work on 25 August 2016
The barrister said they wish to participate ‘meaningfully and effectively’ at a proper inquiry into what happened leading up to the death of their daughter.
Jonathan Hough QC, representing the coroner, Veronica Hamilton-Deeley, said she had decided that the ‘function of an inquest’ had been discharged by the previous inquiries and now ‘leaves it to the court’ to decide whether her decision was unlawful.
He added: ‘At a human level, the coroner understands the desire of the claimant to have her own advocate confront and challenge the officers who she reasonably considers failed her daughter.
‘However, she did not consider that that was enough in law to justify resuming the inquest.
‘Furthermore, if there were to be an inquest, there would inevitably be features of the process which would be acutely painful to the claimant, including the prospect of the individual officers being represented and seeing once again to defend their actions and view of Ms Grice.’