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Murder accused 'got lottery ticket checked after finding ex-girlfriend dead'

A man accused of murder told a court he went to get a lottery ticket checked after finding his ex-girlfriend dead with her throat slashed.

Michael Lane, 27, said he panicked and that it did not cross his mind to dial 999 after finding 19-year-old Shana Grice's body slumped against her bed.

And he said he did not touch her to check whether she might still be alive at her shared bungalow in the Mile Oak area of Brighton, East Sussex.

Lane told jurors he went into shock and "didn't know what to do".

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.

It is claimed Lane refused to accept their break-up and decided no-one else could have a relationship with Miss Grice, allegedly telling a friend: "She'll pay for what she's done."

At Lewes Crown Court, in front of a public gallery packed with friends and relatives of Miss Grice, Lane was asked directly by his defence counsel Simon Russell Flint QC whether he murdered her.

Lane, of Thornhill Rise, Portslade, replied: "No." He denies murder.

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."

Lane said he came across Miss Grice's dead body after deciding to pop round to find out why she had not left for work on August 25 last year.

He told jurors he found the front door open and went in, adding: "That's when I saw her slumped against the bed. She wasn't moving. I saw blood on the bed and blood on the floor.

"She was in her dressing gown. I thought she was dead. I didn't know what to do."

Asked why he did not call an ambulance, Lane said: "Because I was just in shock."

He said he saw no signs of fire and denied torching the room.

And 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.

He said: "I didn't know what to do and I didn't want to get the blame for it."

After showering, he said he went to get his lottery ticket checked, then later noticed blood on his white Lonsdale trainers.

"At this point sirens were going off, so I hid them along the road," he said.

Lane said he also got rid of a T-shirt after "panicking" amid the wail of sirens.

Later the same day, he said, he went to the dentist and then went to work before being arrested.

He admitted, when asked by Mr Russell Flint, telling a number of lies in police interviews.

Earlier, jurors heard Miss Grice had been issued with a fixed penalty notice by police after complaining about an earlier assault by Lane.

Police were called after Lane pulled Miss Grice's hair and tried to grab her mobile phone last March 24. No further action was taken against him.

But jurors heard Miss Grice was issued with a fixed penalty notice for failing to disclose she had been in a relationship with Lane, and for "having caused wasteful employment of police by making a false report".

It was one of a number of contacts Miss Grice had with police before her death, the court was told.

On July 9, Lane was cautioned by police and told to stay away from Miss Grice after he stole a back door key from her home and let himself in, before watching her sleeping and leaving, the court heard.

The following day, Miss Grice reported to police receiving around seven calls from a withheld number, including one with heavy breathing, which she believed was related to the incident the day before.

Miss Grice was told that there were no further lines of inquiry and the case would be left on file.

Then on July 12, more than a month before she was killed, Miss Grice reported to police being followed by Lane.

Jurors heard police treated the incident as "low risk", but that the investigating officer would be made aware.

The case was adjourned to 10.30am on Monday.

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