A MAN accused of killing his ex-girlfriend took the stand for the first time yesterday.
Michael Lane, 27, denies murdering 19-year-old Shana Grice at her home in Chrisdory Road, Portslade, on August 25 last year.
Prosecutors allege Lane slipped into her home while Miss Grice was alone and slit her throat before torching her room after she had rekindled her romance with ex-boyfriend Ashley Cooke.
At Lewes Crown Court, in front of a public gallery packed with friends and relatives of Miss Grice, Lane addressed a catalogue of incidents that had happened with his ex-girlfriend.
Earlier the court heard Lane was cautioned and told to stay away from Miss Grice after he stole a key and sneaked into her bedroom on July 9.
Lane told the jurors he went into the room using a back door key to find out “why she ended it so abruptly”.
He also told jurors that during a period when he was not seeing Miss Grice, he ordered a covert tracker and fitted it under her car so he “could see what she was doing”. But he denied letting down her tyres and making several phone calls from an anonymous number, one with heavy breathing.
Lane described a turbulent ten-month relationship with his on-off lover who he met when they both worked at Brighton Fire Alarms in Foredown Drive, Portslade, in June 2015 and would often see each other at their local pub, the Mile Oak Inn.
Despite being getting back with her former partner Ashley Cooke, Lane and Miss Grice met on August 23 to have sex at Langfords Hotel in Hove – the same night the couple mutually decided to stop seeing each other.
The court heard that in a goodbye text message he said: “We both know now we can’t be together, there has to be a total end, as hard as it may be for both of us.”
Two days later Lane said he decided to pop over to Shana’s house to see why she was not at work after driving through the area and spotting her car.
On arriving at the house on the morning of August 25 he described seeing the door open and Miss Grice slumped dead on the bed.
Explaining why he didn’t call paramedics he said: “Because I was just in shock.”
When asked directly by his defence counsel Simon Russell Flint QC whether he killed Shana, Lane, of Thornhill Rise, Portslade, replied: “No.”
After finding her body, Lane said he went to a McColl’s shop to get a lottery ticket checked.
Mr Russell Flint asked him: “Why do that after seeing your former girlfriend slumped against her bed, seemingly dead?” Lane said: “Because I didn’t want what I saw to be true.”
He claimed he had bought petrol earlier because he wanted to commit suicide after slumping into a depression triggered by the death of his grandfather.
Lane said he left Miss Grice’s property and returned home but did not tell any of his family about his discovery, fearing “getting the blame for it.”
The trial continues.
‘I DIDN’T TELL ANYONE BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT TO GET BLAMED’
MICHAEL Lane told the court about the weeks and days prior to Shana Grice’s death.
Simon Russell Flint QC, defending, questioned him about his movements. Here are some extracts: Lane tells the court why he went to Miss Grice’s home on the morning of her death on August 25, 2016.
Mr Russell Flint: “What time did you leave home?”
Mr Russell Flint: “Where were you planning to go?”
Lane: “I was planning to go and see Shana.”
Mr RF: “Why?”
Lane: “To make sure we wouldn’t have contact again in relation to us meeting up and having contact like had happened before.”
Mr RF: “Had she been in contact on Wednesday 24?”
Mr RF: “So why at 7.25am in the morning did you think it was necessary to go round to her house after the texts the night before?”
Lane: “I don’t know.”
Lane tells the court what he is seen carrying in a CCTV image after leaving his car parked near Miss Grice’s home.
Mr RF: “Why didn’t you turn into Chrisdory Road [Miss Grice’s street]?”
Lane: “I was thinking about what to say to her and talk about.”
Mr RF: “What was in your hand?”
Lane: “I believe it’s a T-shirt.
[Defence presents blue Ralph Lauren T-shirt to the court as evidence.] Mr RF: “Not a baseball cap or high-vis jacket?”
Mr RF: “Why were you carrying the spare T-shirt?”
Lane: “Because the white T-shirt I slept in the night before.”
Lane tells the court a man seen on CCTV in a high-vis jacket and hoodie withdrawing money from Miss Grice’s account is not him.
Mr RF: “High-vis vest, shorts, cap. Is that you?”
Mr RF: “When we saw you earlier at 7.29am about to walk into Sefton Road, did you have a brown hoodie with you?”
Lane: “No, I didn’t.”
Mr RF: “Did you have items of clothing left at her home?”
Lane: “Items were collected on my behalf.”
Mr RF: “What may well be suggested to you is that is a picture of you having just killed Shana and got her bank card to go down to the ATM. Is that you withdrawing £60 from her account?”
Lane: “That’s not me.”
Lane tells the court he bought a bottle of water at 8.12am then went to her house after driving past her road and noticing her car was there when she would normally be at work.
Mr RF: “Did you go to her front door?”
Mr RF: “With the intention of doing what?”
Lane: “Just to see why she was in.”
Mr RF: “What did you see when you got to the front door?”
Lane: “It was open... I took a couple of steps in. She was slumped against the bed.”
Mr RF: “How did she seem?”
Lane: “She wasn’t moving.”
Mr RF: “Did you see anything?”
Lane: “I saw blood on the bed and the floor.”
Mr RF: “What did you think?”
Lane: “I thought she was dead.”
Mr RF: “Did you check to see if there were signs of life?”
Mr RF: “Did you think about phoning paramedics?”
Lane: “No. Because I was just in shock.”
Lane said he got in his car and drove home.
Mr RF: “Was there anybody at home?”
Lane: “My mother and brother.”
Mr RF: “Did you tell anyone?”
Lane: “I didn’t want to get the blame for it because of all the accusations made about me before.”
Mr RF: “What did you do whilst there?”
Lane: “I had a shower because of the shock of what I’d seen.”