FORMER Sussex officer Trevor Godfrey committed misconduct over his involvement in a stalking case which saw a 19-year-old brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend, a panel has found.

Now-retired Godfrey had told a misconduct hearing Shana Grice had initially lied about being in a secret relationship with older colleague Michael Lane as a “smokescreen” so her boyfriend Ashley Cooke did not find out.

The former Sussex Police officer denied he had applied a stereotype that two people in a relationship cannot be the subject of abuse from one another.

He claimed the fact Ms Grice signed off texts to Lane with five kisses meant there was “no reason” to offer her advice.

Panel chairwoman Victoria Goodfellow said: “While clearly serious matters, they are not enough to mean gross misconduct. We do not attribute any blame on Shana.”

SEE ALSO: Former police officer denies Shana Grice case 'stereotype' claims

During a two-day hearing, Godfrey, who retired from Sussex Police in December 2017 following nearly three decades’ service, defended his recommendation that no further action be taken against Michael Lane following an accusation of assault.

Earlier he claimed Grice wasn’t being harassed in the lead up to her death as she had sent him text messages with kisses.

Grice, 19, was murdered by Lane in Portslade Sussex, in 2016. He slit her throat in her bedroom then tried to burn her body.

She had previously reported her ex-boyfriend to officers five times in six months, but was fined £90 for wasting police time.

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

On Monday, Godfrey defended the decision to issue Grice with a formal warning for wasting police time, saying it was the “lenient option”.

The Argus:

Giving evidence on the second day of his misconduct hearing in Lewes, Godfrey said the teenager had initially lied about being in a secret relationship with older colleague Michael Lane as a “smokescreen” so her boyfriend Ashley Cooke did not find out.

Godfrey admitted he did recommend to an inspector that no further action be taken against Lane in spring 2016 following an accusation of assault after he tried to grab her phone, which he defended at the hearing.

He said: “She lied to police three times. It was only right I advised her she cannot keep lying in police statements and getting people arrested for it.”

James Berry, counsel presenting the case against Godfrey, also accused the former police officer of applying a stereotype to the case.

Berry said: “There is a stereotype that if Person A is in a relationship with Person B, one cannot be at risk from the other. Do you agree with that?”

Godfrey replied: “No. It may be the case (applying stereotypes) for other people, I don’t have those views.”

He added: “There was no history of violence between them, there was no evidence of violence, of risk, at that time.”

Pressing him on the matter, Berry said: “You applied that stereotype to Shana, didn’t you?”

“No, I didn’t,” Godfrey replied. “You are asking me to tell you the same thing, over and over again.”

Godfrey said there was no sign of Grice being harassed, something she previously accused Lane of, before admitting to police that him being outside her house late at night was because she had arranged the meeting behind the back of then-boyfriend Cooke.

Godfrey said: “She would be signing her texts (to Lane) with five kisses. This is not harassment. It was a smokescreen to disguise her affair.”

Godfrey also said there was therefore “no reason” to supply Grice with safety advice regarding her relationship with Lane.

He said: “She was in an active relationship with him for six months. I can honestly say, hand on heart, there was nothing there to suggest she was in any form of danger whatsoever.”

The Argus:

Regarding the issue of recommending no further action be taken against Lane when Lane grabbed Grice’s telephone, Aldred added his client was right to have consideration for whether any case alleging common assault would be undermined by her previously misleading police.

He said: “He was mindful of the fact Shana Grice has changed her story on the relationship. He was mindful that he would have a difficult case – he had a damaged witness.

“The reality is, whether he likes it or not, he had a witness whose credibility is damaged and that will affect the evidential weight of the case.

“It was an untruth [Grice not telling the police she was in a relationship with Lane] that was made not as a rabbit in the headlights but to three separate officers on four occasions.”

Lane, 27, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 25 years after being convicted of her murder.