Girl, 16, ‘murdered by her predator uncle’ would have suffered ‘overwhelming pain’, court hears 

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Girl, 16, ‘murdered by her predator uncle’ would have suffered ‘overwhelming pain’ if she was alive when he bludgeoned her with a log, court hears

  • Louise Smith, 16, vanished in Havant at around 12.50pm on May 8 of this year
  • Her body was found defiled and burned two weeks later by detectives
  • PC Abi Biddulph told the court she had suffered ‘catastrophic injuries’ 
  • She had started living with Shane Mays, 30, and his wife CJ just weeks earlier
  • Mays is accused of killing, defiling and burning her in a ‘cruel and brutal’ murder 

The body of teenager Louise Smith had ‘catastrophic injuries’ which if inflicted before she died would have caused ‘overwhelming pain’, a court heard today.

Shane Mays, 30, is accused of the ‘brutal’ murder of the 16-year-old, whose fire-damaged body was found in thick woodland two weeks after she went missing.

The court heard that Louise had injuries which suggested she had been beaten with a ‘log or a large branch’ while already ‘immobile’.

Jurors were also told that a ‘bonfire’ may have been laid on top of the teenager in an attempt to burn her body after she was killed. 

Winchester Crown Court previously heard Louise vanished in Havant, Hampshire, at around 12.50pm on May 8, having been ‘lured’ one and a half miles away to the murder scene at Havant Thicket by Mays.

Aspiring vet Louise’s body was found by detectives on May 21 ‘terribly’ defiled and burned, in what has been described as a ‘cruel and brutal’ murder.

Louise had only started living with Mays and his wife Chazlynn Jayne Mays – the cousin of Louise’s mother as well as the victim’s aunt – just weeks before her death.

In a statement read out to court today, PC Abi Biddulph, who found Louise in the dense woodland, said: ‘The body was quite clearly female and was very petite, her skin colour was white and you could see that she had been burnt.

The body of murdered teenager Louise Smith had ‘catastrophic injuries’ which if inflicted before she died would have caused ‘overwhelming pain’, a court heard today 

Shane Mays, 30, is accused of the 'brutal' murder of the 16-year-old whose fire-damaged body was found in thick woodland two weeks after she went missing

Shane Mays, 30, is accused of the ‘brutal’ murder of the 16-year-old whose fire-damaged body was found in thick woodland two weeks after she went missing

‘The front of her torso was black and so were parts around her. It was like her body had been torched.

‘The body was laid on the floor with her back on the floor with her arms bent and her legs bent.

‘I also noticed that the body still had socks on, these socks were black with green toe and heel bits.’

Home Office pathologist Dr Basil Purdue carried out a post-mortem but said Louise’s body was ‘severely decomposed’ due to the length of time it lay undiscovered.

He said that due to the state of the body, which had also been badly burned using some sort of ‘accelerant’, he could not give an exact cause of death.

However, he said that there were signs of ‘catastrophic injuries, severe blood loss and potentially a copious inhalation of blood’ possibly caused by a ‘log’ or large branch.

The pathologist said the teenager had been struck with such force her jaw had been dislocated and fractured.

Giving evidence today, Dr Purdue said: ‘The force of the blows could have rendered her unconscious or killed her, if life and consciousness remained at the time.

‘These would have bled catastrophically if inflicted during life.

‘It is likely she was immobile at the time of the infliction of injuries [to her face] as they were all in one area. The first blow might have knocked her unconscious and that would have provided a fixed target.’ 

Police officers at the area of woodland in Havant, Hampshire, during their investigation in May

Police officers at the area of woodland in Havant, Hampshire, during their investigation in May

The court also heard appalling details of how a sharp stick had been ‘pushed’ inside the teenager so far it ‘tore through her organs’.

Dr Purdue said he was unable to say if the stick had been used prior to her death but there would have been ‘Severe bleeding and overwhelming pain if inserted during life.’

Mays denies murder but admits manslaughter, claiming he attacked Louise with a series of punches after he ‘lost his temper’ during an argument.

Dr Purdue said it was possible the teen was killed by a flurry of punches, but due to the ‘extreme nature’ it was more likely to be a heavier object.

Mays claims he did not defile or set fire to Louise.

Also today, a forensic scientist described how charred sticks and twigs appeared to have been arranged on top of the teenager’s body.

He explained it was ‘quite a challenge’ to destroy a human body in a fire and told the court in his opinion it was ‘highly likely’ an accelerant was used.

Martin Crookes, who is an expert in fire damage, said: ‘One possibility was that the sticks were originally stacked on top of the body like a bonfire in order to aid the combustion process.

‘There was one stick toward the head which was heavily charred and burned but then had a clean break at the end indicating it had been broken in the fire.

Home Office pathologist Dr Basil Purdue carried out a post-mortem but said Louise's body was 'severely decomposed' due to the length of time it lay undiscovered

Home Office pathologist Dr Basil Purdue carried out a post-mortem but said Louise’s body was ‘severely decomposed’ due to the length of time it lay undiscovered

‘In order to get a body to combust and ignite successfully is quite a challenge.’

Mr Crookes said it seemed as though the branches on the ground had also been used to surround the body to add ‘fuel to the fire’.

He said that no fire damage was found on the clothes’ of Mays or his wife and that he had not found any petrol, or other flammable substance on Louise’s body, or clothes.

He added this was expected given that the body may have been there almost two weeks before it was discovered.

He also explained he was unable to determine what a lump of metal found near the body was, but said he could not rule out the possibility it was a mobile phone.

Earlier, the court heard that Mays knew the area of Havant Thicket where Louise was found and had made bonfires in the woods there as a teenager while camping with friends.

His friends described him as a ‘people pleaser’ who was very quiet and said they had lost touch with him when he got married.

The trial continues.

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