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Man found guilty of 'brutal' murder of teenager Louise Smith in East Hampshire woodland
8 December 2020, 16:14
A 30-year-old man has been found guilty of the murder of teenager Louise Smith who was killed with "breath-taking brutality" in an East Hampshire woodland.
Shane Mays, described as "predatory" by the prosecution, lured the 16-year-old to a secluded spot in Havant Thicket on VE Day (8 May 2020).
The defendant then repeatedly punched Ms Smith in the face, causing her fatal injuries, before defiling her with a stick and burning her body.
She was found 13 days later during a major police search.
James Newton-Price QC told the trial at Winchester Crown Court: "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."
Mays showed no emotion upon hearing the unanimous verdict, while cries of "Yes" could be heard from the public gallery.
The victim, who was considered a "vulnerable" student", had moved in with Mays and his wife Chazlynn Jayne (CJ) Mays - who is Ms Smith's aunt - at the end of April after she had "quarrelled" with her mother.
However, arguments broke out between the three while living together, with the 16-year-old complaining to her boyfriend, Bradley Kercher, that Mays would "flirt" with her and pin her down.
The jury was shown a Snapchat video of the defendant tickling Louise's feet.
Mr Newton-Price said: "Louise was just 16, she was anxious, needy, fragile and vulnerable, vulnerable to the attentions of a predatory man who was apparently flirting with her and living in the same small flat."
He suggested that Mays had persuaded the young girl to walk with him to the woodland by offering her cannabis, with the aim of sexually assaulting her.
Mays told the court that he punched Louise "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."
The court heard that a clinical review of the defendant found he had an "extremely low" IQ of 63, putting him in the bottom one percentile of people.
He told the court that he had not worked for five years and spent nine hours a day playing video games.
Following her death, Louise, who was training to be a veterinary nurse, was described by her family as a "smiley, generous person".
The judge, Mrs Justice May, adjourned the case for sentencing on Wednesday and thanked the jury, saying: "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."