A ‘predatory’ uncle was today found guilty of the ‘sexually-motivated’ murder of his 16-year-old niece who he lured into the woods and savagely beat to death before setting her body on fire.
Shane Mays, 30, killed Louise Smith by punching her repeatedly in the face until a part of her skull caved in.
He had lured her into a clearing deep within Havant Thicket in Hampshire earlier this year and, after murdering her, attempted to burn her defiled body before heading home and casually buying pizza just hours later.
Mays, who was unemployed and spent nine-hours a day playing his X-Box games console, then covered his tracks by joining in a huge search for the teenager who was reported missing on May 8.
The defendant showed no emotion as the unanimous verdict was announced today, and cries of ‘Yes’ could be heard from the public gallery.
Scroll down for video.
Shane Mays (left, in a mug shot released today) bludgeoned Louise Smith to death by punching her repeatedly in the face until a part of her skull caved in
He told his wife Chazlynn Mays – or CJ – and Louise’s boyfriend, 17-year-old Bradley Kercher, that he had walked her to a local skatepark the previous day but had not seen her since.
Her body was found on May 21 after a 13-day police search and Mays’ DNA found at the scene. Her blood was also found on his trainers.
He later admitted her manslaughter, claiming he had punched her when he ‘lost control’ during an argument, but said he did not intend to kill her and denied sexually abusing her.
However a jury at Winchester Crown Court today took less than a hour to convict him of Louise’s murder following a three and a half week trial.
Mays told the court that he punched Louise – who had a social worker and was being treated for depression – ‘many’ times to the face and had heard her bones ‘crack’, after losing his temper.
He said: ‘I just carried on, I lost control of myself. She made a moaning noise, that’s when I stopped.’
Mays was seen casually buying a pizza after murdering Louise
Mays developed a sexual desire for Louise, who had come to live with him and CJ on April 26 after she had fallen out with her mother, Rebecca Cooper, and moved out of the home they shared nearby.
He began to flirt with the vulnerable teenager, who had a history of depression and self harm, and would often engage in bizarre play fighting and tickling.
During the trial, jurors were played a Snapchat video in which Mays was seen poking his head in between Louise’s legs and scratching at her socked foot.
Although initially she liked living there and referred to Mays and CJ, as her ‘mum’ and ‘dad’, the relationship soon soured.
Louise messaged friends to say how she had grown to hate living with her uncle, calling him ‘vile’.
The court heard how she slept on a mattress with her boyfriend Bradley which had been laid out on the Mays’ living room floor as they only had a one-bedroom flat.
The couple, who often got up past 10am and only rarely ventured out of their home to buy cigarettes and snacks from nearby shops, punished her for not sharing household chores by taking her phone away temporarily.
Tensions eventually boiled over when they stopped Louise from smoking cannabis and banned Bradley from their flat after a furious bust-up one evening.
Mays, an unemployed 30-year-old, who spent nine-hours a day playing his X-Box games console, (right with his wife, Chazlynn Jayne Mays) covered his tracks by joining in a huge search for the teenager
On May 7, Louise hatched a plan to live with a friend of her mother’s, Samantha Burt, who she had briefly stayed with in the past, and sent her a text message which read ‘I need your help’.
They exchanged numerous messages throughout the day as Louise prepared to move in but she later phoned Ms Burt and said that she had changed her mind after speaking to her social worker.
Instead Louise stayed put and later that evening accompanied Mays to the shops where he bought a £17 bottle of rum and a bottle of Peach Schnapps – despite telling the court that he was given just £50 a fortnight to live on.
He and CJ watched TV in their bedroom with Louise up until 3am. The teenager told friends in text messages that she had been drinking alcohol and was so drunk she had passed out.
The following day, May 8, the 75th anniversary of VE Day, Mays got up at around 10.30am.
A couple of hours later he walked with Louise nearly an hour to the woodland clearing in Havant Thicket.
The prosecution claimed that he had promised her cannabis if she went with him and that his intentions were likely motivated by a ‘sexual interest’.
There in the remote spot he punched her twice, knocking her to the ground, and as she lay on the floor, he crouched over her and carried on punching her until he heard her bones crack.
Her body was found by police on May 21. She had been sexually assaulted with a stick and attempts had been made to torch the body.
The prosecution had alleged that he had killed her to ‘silence her’ and violated her body because he was worried he may have made her pregnant.
Yellow tape representing a fallen tree trunk and an orange flag marking the spot in woodland at Havant Thicket in Hampshire, where police found Louise’s body
Earlier in the trial Mr Newton-Price QC had described how Mays had preyed on the slightly built teen, (pictured) who had hoped to become a veterinary nurse
In summing up the prosecution’s case, James Newton-Price QC said: ‘He deliberately took Louise to that place, he chose that clearing in that woods. He could have stopped after the first punch. He did not.
‘He carried on. He may well have done much more and even worse. He chose to abandon her in the woods and chose, really, to afford her no mercy.
‘These are his choices, these are his deliberate intentional acts, and he is responsible for what he has done.’
He added: ‘A determined attempt had been made to destroy her body, which was so badly burned and damaged by fire as to be unrecognisable.
‘Her body had been subjected to extreme violence and violation, including repeated and heavy blows to her head.’
Earlier in the trial Mr Newton-Price QC had described how Mays had preyed on the slightly built teen, who had hoped to become a veterinary nurse.
He said: ‘Louise was just 16. She was anxious, needy, mentally fragile and vulnerable.
‘Vulnerable to the attention of a predatory man who was apparently flirting with her and living with her in the same small flat.’
Mays, who is 6ft and weighs 17-stone, admitted hitting the 5ft teenager, claiming that she had struck him first with the stick she had later been sexually abused with in a row over her cannabis use.
But he maintained that he had walked out of the clearing as she lay on the floor ‘moaning’ and denied murdering her or sexually abusing her.
After leaving Louise, he walked out of the thicket to his mother’s house where he picked up an HDMI cable for his XBox and later that evening he was caught on CCTV buying pizzas at a local Iceland supermarket.
He told Louise’s worried relatives that he had walked her to Emsworth Skate Park – the opposite direction of Havant Thicket – and even joined locals in looking for her.
Mays, who admitted taking hard drugs, like ecstasy and cocaine, in the past had been given a caution for assaulting another boy in 2005 when he was 14-years-old
Police initially arrested him on suspicion of kidnapping the teenager and released him on bail until her body was found and he was re-arrested on suspicion of murder.
CJ was also arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender but later cleared of any wrongdoing and released with no further action.
Mays, who admitted taking hard drugs, like ecstasy and cocaine, in the past had been given a caution for assaulting another boy in 2005 when he was 14-years-old. He claimed that the boy had been picking on his disabled nephew.
He was also given a caution for handling stolen goods when he was aged 18. He said that he had unwittingly bought a stolen bike online.
However, a former friend told MailOnline today that Mays used to steal from his mother’s house and from other relatives and sell the goods at a second hand store near Portsmouth.
The one-time pal revealed: ‘He’d head to the shop with bric-a-brac items that he’d stolen and sell them on.
‘His mum would come in a few days later and demand to the shop owners that the items were stolen and they should give them back but they never did as they’d been bought in good faith.’
The judge, Mrs Justice May, adjourned the case for sentencing tomorrow.
Thanking the jury, she said: ‘You cannot have imagined that you would be sitting on a case like this.
‘I want to thank each of you for the attention you have given and your attendance during the pandemic.’
Kate Anderson, CPS Wessex Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor, said: ‘Louise was a vulnerable teenager who sought care and support from Mays and his partner when she most needed it. Mays completely broke that trust by taking Louise into the woods, abusing and killing her.
‘The weight of the prosecution evidence against Mays proved his series of lies were not true. He eventually admitted manslaughter but still attempted to suggest that he had not intended to murder her, and that he was not responsible for the extent of Louise’s injuries.
‘The prosecution team worked extremely hard to build a strong case so that the jury could be sure Mays was guilty of murder, and to deliver justice for Louise and her family.’