Murdered teenager Louise Smith’s ‘predatory’ uncle has been jailed for at least 25 years after beating her to death and assaulting her in a ‘sexually motivated’ killing.
Shane Mays was sentenced to life in prison at Winchester Crown Court for the ‘brutal’ murder of the 16-year-old.
Judge Mrs Justice May said: ‘Shane Mays was in a position of trust in relation to Louise; theirs was like a father-daughter relationship.
‘That being, he committed the most gross abuse of trust. I am not persuaded his learning disability tempered this in any way as Shane Mays plainly recognised Louise was young, had mental health difficulties and was in his and CJ’s care.’
It yesterday emerged Louise had told family friend Samantha Burt she ‘hated’ living with Mays, who took a sexual interest in her and begun flirting with her.
But the ‘vulnerable’ teenager changed her mind at the last minute and decided to stay with Mays after discussing the idea with her social worker.
Just a day later, Mays lured her into a thicket of woods near his one-bedroom flat in Havant, Hampshire, and pummelled her face with his fists until her bones cracked, sexually abusing her with a stick and trying to set light to her body.
Yesterday, a jury took less than an hour to find Mays guilty of murder after a three and a half week trial.
The defendant showed no emotion as the unanimous verdict was announced and cries of ‘Yes’ could be heard from the public gallery.
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Shane Mays (left, in a mug shot released yesterday) bludgeoned Louise Smith (right, in a photo released by her family) to death by punching her repeatedly in the face until a part of her skull caved in
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
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
Louise Smith’s mother, Rebecca, yesterday spoke of her ‘unbelievable pain’ at not being able to see her daughter again. She is seen outside court with her partner, Richard O’Shea
Mays had admitted manslaughter, claiming he had punched Louise when he ‘lost control’ during an argument, but said he did not intend to kill her and denied sexually abusing her.
But the jury found him guilty of murder yesterday following the three and a half week trial.
Following the verdict, Rebbecca Cooper, Louise’s mother, said: ‘We would like to thank everyone who contributed in finding justice for our beautiful daughter Louise.
‘No words can describe the loss we feel on a daily basis. She was our sunshine, and is truly missed by all that knew her.
‘I cannot put it into words, but the pain inside is unbelievable just knowing we will never see her again.’
Louise’s father, Bradley Smith, said: ‘Louise was very much loved her whole young life. As a family, we wanted to give her happy times like taking her on holiday.
‘We all find it impossible to accept that we will never hear her voice or see her cheeky smile again.
‘Our chance to see her grow up has been ripped away from us. As a father, I moved away to try and build a life for both of us. I’ll never get a chance to share that with her. The loss of Louise has destroyed our family.’
The intervention of social services came to light during evidence from family friend Samantha Burt, who had cared for the teenager in the past.
She told the court that Louise ‘hated’ living with Mays and her aunt Chazlynn because her uncle had begun to take a sexual interest in her and was openly flirting with her.
She had grown tired of living with Mays and her aunt as her 30-year-old unemployed uncle who filled his days by playing X-Box for nine hours a day, flirted with her by tickling her feet.
She sent a desperate text message to Ms Burt on May 7, saying: ‘I need your help’.
She told Ms Burt that her aunt and uncle treated her like a child because they wouldn’t let her smoke cannabis and wouldn’t allow her boyfriend Bradley Kercher, 17, stay the night at the flat where she slept on a mattress in the lounge.
Ms Burt, a friend of Louise’s mother Rebecca Cooper, told the court: ‘When I rang her she was crying, she was in a complete fit. She was hysterically crying.
‘She said ‘I don’t want to be there, I want to go’ and I said ‘get your stuff and come to me, you know where I am’.
‘She hated being there, she said ‘I can’t do nothing there, they are treating me like a child. She was going to get Brad and come to me.’
The court also heard Miss Burt told Louise she would be ‘safe’ at her house.
Throughout the afternoon Miss Burt messaged Louise, telling her she was preparing spaghetti bolognese for her dinner, but in the evening she said that Louise ‘suddenly’ told her she wasn’t going after speaking to her social worker.
Louise’s father, Bradley Smith, (pictured on the right with his family – names not known), said: ‘We all find it impossible to accept that we will never hear her voice or see her cheeky smile again’
Mays attempted to burn her defiled body before heading home and casually buying a pizza in Iceland just hours later (pictured in a CCTV still)
Instead Louise stayed put and later on the evening of May 7 went with Mays to the shops where he bought a £17 bottle of rum and a bottle of Peach Schnapps.
He and CJ watched TV in their bedroom with Louise 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 said he promised her cannabis if she went with him and that he was motivated by a ‘sexual interest’ in her.
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.
Mays told the court: ‘I just carried on, I lost control of myself. She made a moaning noise, that’s when I stopped.’
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 wood. 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.’
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, 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
Mays, who is 6ft and weights 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.
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 yesterday 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.’
A spokesman for Hampshire County Council said: ‘We do not provide details about individual cases.
‘All of the evidence heard in court will be considered alongside all other relevant information from the council and other agencies by the Hampshire Safeguarding Children Partnership in its learning review.’
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