Sussex

Shana Grice murder: Throat cut 'by obsessed ex'

Shana Grice Image copyright Grice family
Image caption Shana Grice worked in the accounts department of a company in Hove

An "obsessed" ex-boyfriend slit a teenager's throat before setting fire to her bedroom, a court has heard.

Michael Lane, 27, is accused of murdering 19-year-old Shana Grice after she renewed a relationship with her previous boyfriend Ashley Cooke.

Miss Grice was found dead at her house in Chrisdory Road in the Mile Oak, Portslade, East Sussex, in August last year, Lewes Crown Court heard.

Mr Lane, of Thornhill Rise, Portslade, denies murder.

The tyre and exhaust fitter had been told by police to stay away from Miss Grice after allegedly stalking and harassing her in the months leading up to her death.

'Cheat on you'

The jury heard that Mr Lane put a tracker device on her car and told a friend "she'll pay for what she's done", after hearing about Miss Grice's decision to rekindle her relationship with Mr Cooke.

Five months later, on 9 July last year, Mr Lane was cautioned by police after he stole a key to her back door before letting himself in as she hid under her duvet, the court heard.

Opening the Crown's case, prosecutor Philip Bennetts QC said: "Unfortunately, Michael Lane had become obsessed by Shana.

"That obsession with her translated into killing her. He would not allow anyone else to be with her."

Jurors also heard Mr Cooke's car was damaged, with a note left on it reading: "Dear Ash, Shana has and always will cheat on you. Happy New Year."

Simon Russell Flint QC, defending, said as a result of police involvement in the problems between Miss Grice and Mr Lane, she was fined and issued a fixed penalty notice for wasting police time.

Image caption Miss Grice's body was found at her home in Chrisdory Road, Portslade

When Miss Grice failed to turn up to work in the accounts department of Hove company Palmer and Harvey on 25 August, concerned colleagues raised the alarm.

She was found face down on her bed in her smoke-filled bedroom by Mr Cooke's father, Ian.

During the trial, he said: "I saw the bed and at first I thought it was just a duvet, then I realised there was a body on the bed.

"I was shouting out for Shana. I then saw her face down, arms to her side."

Two seats of fire were revealed on the carpet and the bed. A box of matches was found on the floor and a piece of cardboard had been wedged in the bedroom door to keep it closed.

Two days before Miss Grice was killed she met Mr Lane at a hotel in Hove where it was agreed their relationship was over, but he refused to accept it, the jury heard.

Bloodstained trainers

Mr Bennetts said Mr Lane waited until the last person had left Miss Grice's bungalow before going in, slashing her throat and setting the fires.

A pair of bloodstained trainers with Mr Lane's DNA was discovered nearby five days after her death.

In early police interviews, Mr Lane said he had not been at Miss Grice's home on the day of the killing but later changed his account.

He told officers: "You ain't going to believe me... in the morning I did go to Shana's."

He said the front door was open and he saw Shana was on the floor leaning against the bed.

Mr Bennetts told the jurors: "He didn't telephone the police. He didn't telephone for an ambulance. He told no-one about what he had seen. He panicked. He said he thought the police would blame him."

The trial continues.

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