A “vulnerable” 16-year-old girl was killed in a “cruel and brutal murder” with a “sexual motive” by her aunt’s husband, a court has heard.
Shane Mays, of Havant, Hampshire, is on trial at Winchester Crown Court charged with the murder of Louise Smith, who disappeared on VE Day.
Her body was found 13 days later in woodland at Havant Thicket, partially burned. It had been penetrated ‘in a terrible way’, according to the prosecution.
The 30-year-old defendant has admitted the manslaughter of the teenager, who had been living with him and his wife, Chazlynn Jayne Mays, known as CJ Mays, who was the cousin of Louise’s mother as well as the victim’s aunt.
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.
Mays ‘tickled’ and had ‘playfights’ with Louise when she moved in and her boyfriend said later said Mays ‘flirted’ with her by putting his arm around her and ‘pinning her down’, the court was told.
The prosecutor said that she disappeared on May 8 and Ms Mays reported her missing later that afternoon.
On VE Day on May 8 earlier this year, Mays allegedly led the ‘vulnerable and impressionable’ college student to woodland site Havant Thicket, Hants, and murdered her.
He 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 three miles away, the prosecution 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.
“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.”
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.
There was ‘an incident of tickling and playfighting’ and Mr Newton-Price QC showed jurors a short video of Mays, looking through her knees and tickling her.
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 that she wanted to move out, telling one: “I can’t live here anymore… Long story, they are just vile.”
Mays denies murder and the trial continues.