A husband murdered his wife’s teenage niece in a sexually-motivated attack before trying to destroy her body by setting it on fire, a court heard today.
Shane Mays, 30, allegedly walked schoolgirl Louise Smith, 16, to woodland a mile from her home in Havant, Hampshire, where he killed her and dumped her body.
Louise went missing on VE Day in May, sparking a huge search. Her body was found by police in a country park 13 days later, a mile and a half from Mays’ flat in Havant.
Mays was arrested after her body was discovered and went on trial at Winchester Crown Court today for murder, having yesterday pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
The girl had been living with Mays and his wife, Chazlynn Jayne Mays, known as CJ Mays, 29, who was the cousin of Louise’s mother as well as the victim’s aunt.
Louise Smith went missing on VE Day in May, sparking a huge search. The body of the 16-year-old girl was found by police 13 days later in a country park in Havant, Hampshire
James Newton-Price QC, prosecuting, told the court that Louise had been living with the couple in their one-bedroom flat after ‘quarrelling’ in April with her mother Rebecca Cooper, because she wanted to spend more time with her boyfriend.
He said that she disappeared on May 8 and Ms Mays reported her missing later that afternoon.
The defendant told police that he had walked with Louise to a skatepark in Emsworth, but later changed his version by admitting to causing her death at Havant Thicket, he said.
Mr Newton-Price said: ‘The prosecution submits this was a cruel and brutal murder.’
He continued: ‘Her body was found in Havant Thicket at 11.45am on May 21 following an extensive search by Hampshire Police.
‘Louise had been missing for 13 days by then, a determined attempt had been made to destroy her body. It was so badly burned and damaged by fire as to be unrecognisable.
Louise had been living with Shane Mays (right) and his wife, Chazlynn Jayne Mays (left), known as CJ Mays, 29, who was the cousin of Louise’s mother as well as the victim’s aunt
‘Her body had been subjected to extreme violence, this included repeated and heavy blows to her head.
‘The bones and the structure of her face had been shattered, her jaw bone was completely detached from the skull.
‘Her body had also been penetrated in a terrible way that I will have to describe. There are grounds to believe that part of the motivation for her murder was sexual.’
He said that Mays threw away Louise’s mobile phone after killing her, before he walked to his mother’s home and told her that he had walked the teenager to the Emsworth skatepark.
Describing Louise, Mr Newton-Price said: ‘Louise Smith was a vulnerable child, she took anti-depressants and occasionally self-harmed and had a social worker.
‘She lacked confidence and she suffered from anxiety issues that do affect some teenagers.’
Police officers at the area of woodland in Havant, Hampshire, during their investigation in May
He said that Louise first moved in with another aunt before moving to the Mays’ household in late April, which started happily.
Mr Newton-Price said Louise sent a message to Ms Mays saying: ‘I want to start calling you guys mum and dad but I do not want to make Shane uncomfortable.’
He said the arrangement deteriorated after Ms Mays imposed a curfew after she became unhappy with Louise smoking cannabis, bringing her boyfriend home and arriving late.
Louise later sent a message to a friend saying: ‘I can’t live here any more,’ and adding: ‘Long story, they are just vile.’
The Spinnaker Tower landmark in Portsmouth was lit up in Louise’s favourite colour of purple on the day of her funeral in July.
Mays denies murder and the trial continues.