A teenage girl was murdered in a ‘cruel and brutal’ way by her uncle who defiled her in a ‘terrible way’, and then burnt her body following the horrific ‘sexually motivated’ killing, a court has heard.
Shane Mays subjected 16-year old-Louise Smith – with whom he had been observed flirting with – to ‘extreme violence and violation’, shattering her skull and leaving her ‘unrecognisable’, prosecutors said.
The married 30-year-old allegedly used such devastating force her jawbone was ‘completely detached from her skull’.
Mays then made a ‘determined attempt’ to destroy the aspiring veterinary nurse's body by burning it, it was also said.
Mays and wife CJ – the teenager’s aunt – had only started caring for Louise just two weeks before – and she even wanted to start calling him ‘dad’.
He 'tickled' and had 'play fights' with Louise when she moved in. Her boyfriend said later Mays 'flirted' with her by putting his arm around her and 'pinning her down’.
However, Louise's relationship with CJ and Mays later soured as she 'had enough of being there' following arguments over her boyfriend and smoking cannabis.
On VE Day on May 8 earlier this year, Mays allegedly led the 'vulnerable and impressionable' college student to woodland site Havant Thicket, in Hants, and murdered her.
He even stopped in at his mum's house on the way back while he was 'sweaty and thirsty' and later 'lied' to police by telling them he walked her to a skate park almost five kilometres away.
James Newton-Price QC, prosecuting at Winchester Crown Court, Hants, said Mays had 'changed his story' by now admitting manslaughter, having originally told police he knew nothing about her death.
“The prosecution submits this is a cruel and brutal murder,” Mr Newton-Price QC said.
“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 has been subjected to extreme violence and violation, including repeated and heavy blows to her head.
“The bones and the structure of her face had been shattered.
“Her jawbone was completely detached from her skull.
“Her body had also been penetrated in a terrible way... there are grounds to believe that part of the motivation for her murder was sexual.”
Louise moved into Mays' flat which he shared with CJ (Chazlynn) following a 'quarrel' with her mum, Rebecca Cooper.
The teen got on well with CJ and Mays. She messaged CJ saying: “I wish you and Shane was my parents, maybe then I wouldn't be the way I have been recently. I want to start calling you guys mum and dad but I don’t wanna make Shane feel uncomfortable.”
There was ‘an incident of tickling and play fighting’ and Mr Newton-Price QC showed jurors a short video of Mays, looking through her knees and tickling her, which The Sun reported was uploaded to Snapchat.
However, Mr Newton-Price QC said ‘that happy start did not last long’ and ‘tensions’ grew.
Days later Louise sent a friend an image of her crying on Snapchat. She stated ‘clearly’ in messages to friends she wanted to move out, telling one: “I can’t live here anymore... Long story, they are just vile.”
Louise told one friend she was ‘treated like a child’ by Mays and CJ.
While her boyfriend was round, he witnessed Mays allegedly flirting with her.
“Louise had spoke to [the boyfriend] about Mays flirting with her. In his words he said ‘like he’d put his arm around her and he’d tickle her and pin her down and things like that’,” Mr Newton-Price QC said.
“On May 7, he heard Mays say that he felt like Louise was flirting with him. He got the impression that they were both saying the other flirted with them, but that they were both denying flirting with each other.”
Accused killer ‘lied to mum about walking teen to skate park’
On the night before her death she was ‘drinking heavily’, told friends she ‘passed out’ and even contacted a mental health hotline.
“I suffer from anxiety and depression, it sucks but I make it through every day somehow but... can’t cope as much... I can’t help it I have started self-harming again I can’t cope,” she told the hotline.
Mr Newton-Price QC also said: “Louise disappeared sometime after 12.49pm on May 8, that was the last time of her last outgoing contact with her phone.
“Her auntie frantically tried to contact Louise by phone from about 3pm when Louise failed to come home as expected.
“CJ eventually reported Louise missing at 6.32pm. Louise did not come home that night or ever again.”
Mr Newton-Price QC said ‘police had concerns about Mays’ account of Louise's disappearance’.
“Mays told police that he had walked Louise to a recreation ground or skate park,” he said.
“He said he left her there in the early afternoon that day. That was a lie.
“In fact, Mays and Louise walked to Havant Thicket and Mays killed her there. He took her mobile phone and threw it into the woods as he left the scene of the killing.
“He called in fact on his mother shortly after killing Louise. It was a warm day, he was sweaty and he was thirsty, he told his mother the lie about having just walked Louise to a skate park almost three miles away.
“Mays was to repeat and elaborate on this same lie to his wife and to Louise’s boyfriend later that day. He told the same lie to police in great detail.”
Friends of Louise, whose body was found on May 21, said she was ‘easily led’ and ‘vulnerable to peer pressure’.
“Louise was a vulnerable child. She took anti-depressants and occasionally self-harmed. She lacked self-confidence and she suffered from the anxiety issues that affect some teenagers,” Mr Newton-Price QC said.
“Louise wanted to assert her independence but we submit she was vulnerable and impressionable.”
Jurors were shown CCTV of Louise’s last-known sightings, as she walked through Havant with Mays on the day before her death.
Mays, from Havant, has learning difficulties, jurors were told. He denies murder but admits manslaughter.
The trial continues.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.