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Stalking can lead to murder

Stalking Awareness Week is used to highlight the very real threat of stalking. Often people underplay the severity that stalking can have on a victim. Some even hold the idea that it’s a romantic gesture. It isn’t. Stalking is illegal, and can lead to up to 14 years in prison, depending on the type. Stalking can lead to horrific events, as this story will show.

Please be aware that the details in this story can be triggering for some.

Towards the end of 2015 Shana, then 18 years old, started working as a receptionist in Brighton. It was there that she met Michael Lane, 26.

Towards the end of 2015 Shana, then 18 years old, started working as a receptionist in Brighton. It was there that she met Michael Lane, 26. Shana had a long-term boyfriend, but fell for Michael and they began a secret relationship. Initially, Michael was extremely attentive to Shana, showering her with gifts and ‘love bombing’ her. However, his behaviour quickly became controlling and Shana broke things off in December 2015.

After ending the relationship, Shana started noticing Michael hanging around her home. He sent her unwanted gifts which she reported to their employer. On one occasion she left her flat to find her car tyre slashed and Michael suddenly appeared offering to fix it. In February 2016 Shana made her first report to the police about Michael. This was following an incident where he had vandalised her boyfriend Ashely’s car. Police spoke to him, telling him to steer clear of Shana.

In March 2016 Michael assaulted Shana in the street. Pulling her hair and attempting to grab her phone. She reported this incident to the police. However, with her new boyfriend present, Shana didn’t mention her previous relationship with Michael. When the police followed up with Michel, he produced evidence they had been in a relationship. Shana was then issued with a £90 fine for failing to disclose that she had been in a relationship with him and for wasting police time.

Following this Shana did not report Michael’s continuing stalking. He would follow her, send gifts and threaten suicide if she did not get back together. But she made no further reports until July 2016. Michael stole a key to her flat and entered her bedroom in the middle of the night. He stood over her bed while she pretended to be asleep, hiding under her covers.

Michael received a caution for this offence and was again told to stay away from Shana.

In the days following this incident Shana received several silent calls that she believed were made by Michael, she also reported being followed by him. She is told by police there no further lines of enquiry to pursue.

Michael continued to follow Shana and to write her letters. She agreed to meet with Michael in August 2016, to plead with him to stop what he was doing.

Two days later on the 25th of August 2016, he broke in to Shana’s flat in the early hours of the morning, slit her throat and set fire to her bedroom. She was nineteen years old.

He was found guilty of her murder in March 2017 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Following an investigation by Sussex Police, they said:

We have long accepted we made mistakes in this tragic case and again apologise for the failures highlighted. What happened should not have happened and we have learned many lessons. We have since invested more resource, delivered better training and improved processes to prevent this from happening to anyone else.

At PARAGON we work in close partnership with Sussex Police to advocate for and support anyone who has been the victim of stalking or any other kind of abuse in an intimate partner relationship.

As an IDVA, it is my role to offer ongoing support to victims and survivors of domestic abuse and stalking; this includes assessing risk, safety planning, advocacy, court support and emotional support.

For support and advice with any kind of intimate partner abuse in West Sussex, please contact our Sussex PARAGON Team

or WORTH Services

Author: Ellen Giddey, IDVA

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