A POLICE officer who told a terrified student she was wasting police time when she reported harassment by the boyfriend who would go on to murder her, has defended his actions.

Trevor Godfrey, who left Sussex Police after nearly 29 years’ service at the end of 2017, told a misconduct panel that issuing Shana Grice with a fixed penalty notice for wasting police time after she complained about being harassed by ex-partner Michael Lane was the “lenient option”.

Ms Grice, 19, was murdered at her home in Mile Oak on August 25, 2016.

The Argus:

Shana Grice

She had reported her former boyfriend to police five times in six months but was fined for wasting officers’ time after it emerged she initially failed to disclose the pair had previously been in a relationship.

The case was closed before her pleas for help were properly investigated.

SEE MORE: Timeline of 'stalking and abuse' of Shana Grice

Giving evidence to the panel in Lewes on Monday, Mr Godfrey said it was “a bit of a bombshell” when Lane told him after being arrested in March 2016 on suspicion of a minor assault against Ms Grice that the pair had been in a sexual relationship for several months – and the reason he was in an alleyway next to her home in February 2016, after previously being warned by police to stay away from her, was because he was summoned there by Ms Grice.

The hearing was told Mr Godfrey later informed Ms Grice, during a phone call lasting less than a minute and a half, that her evidence of being harassed by Lane was discredited.

James Berry, presenting the case against Mr Godfrey, accused the former police officer of leaving Ms Grice with the “clear impression” that she was wasting police time and had committed a criminal offence. Mr Godfrey replied: “Absolutely, she did waste my time.

The Argus:

“I arrested someone (Lane) as a result of her evidence on a false allegation.

“She had committed a criminal offence – I don’t get what you’re trying to get at here.”

Asked by his own counsel Michael Aldred about the case, Mr Godfrey added: “I took the lenient view that a warning was sufficient.

“The fixed penalty notice for wasting police time – that was not my decision.

“His (the inspector’s) decision, which I don’t disagree with, was that she should not be able to get away with making false statements.”

Mr Godfrey told the hearing how his only involvement with Ms Grice was when police were called in March 2016 after Lane pulled Miss Grice’s hair and tried to grab her mobile phone.

SEE ALSO: Police officer who ignored murdered teen's stalking complaints faces misconduct hearing

No further action was taken against Lane, but Ms Grice was issued with a £90 fixed penalty notice for failing to disclose she had been in a relationship with him and for “having caused wasteful employment of police by making a false report”.

A judge later said police “jumped to conclusions” and “stereotyped” Miss Grice for not thinking a woman in a relationship could also be abused by that partner.

Her family – who were present at the misconduct hearing – said the murder could have been prevented if officers had taken their daughter’s complaints seriously.

Lane was subsequently jailed for a minimum of 25 years.

The Argus:

The hearingeventually got under way on Monday afternoon after an application from Mr Godfrey’s legal team to remove some of the allegations was dismissed by the misconduct panel.

It is due to resume tomorrow.

Shana’s parents spoke out in April after Sussex Police confirmed some of the officers involved in her case would be facing disciplinary action and on the day an independent report found the force’s approach to investigating stalking and harassment cases was not consistent or effective.

Sharon Grice and Richard Green said: “Our daughter took her concerns to the police and instead of being protected was treated like a criminal.

“She paid for the police’s lack of training, care and poor attitude with her life.

“It’s only right that the police make changes, but it’s too little, too late for Shana.

“Sussex Police should not be applauded for this.

“Instead we would encourage people to reflect on why they’re making these changes.

“A young girl went to them for protection and ended up murdered in her own home by the very person she’d asked the police to protect her from.”