Uncle’s horrid act before killing teen
WARNING: Graphic content.
A 16-year-old girl's "brutally beaten" and torched body was "unrecognisable" when found in the woods near her home, with her uncle now on trial for her murder.
Jurors were told Louise Smith, of Hampshire, England, was killed in a "sexually motivated attack" before her body was set alight, with a post-mortem unable to determine which of her injuries killed her due to damage caused by the fire, The Sunreports.
Winchester Crown Court heard that Louise's uncle, Shane Mays, 30, had begun flirting with the teen not long after she moved in with him and his wife Chazlynn, known as CJ, to their one-bedroom flat on April 26. Mr Mays denies the charge of murder but admits to manslaughter.
Weeks before her death, Louise, who dreamt of becoming a veterinary nurse, had sent a Snapchat video to her boyfriend, which was shown to the jury, of Mr Mays poking his head between her legs and scratching at her socked foot.
In a message, she had said: "Sorry babe, Shane just attacked me and started tickling my foot and sh*t. I was crying with laughter."
The tickling incident was said to have occurred shortly after Louise moved in with the pair after a quarrel with her mother saw her move out of the family home.
Prosecutor James Newton-Price QC said: "Louise Smith was a vulnerable child. She lacked confidence and she suffered from anxiety issues that do affect some teenagers.
"In April this year, Louise quarrelled with her mother and she went to live for a time with other friends and family.
"In late April, Louise went to live with a lady called Chazlynn Mays and her husband Shane.
"At first the new arrangement went well. There seems to have been an incident of play-fighting and tickling with Shane Mays that took place not long after moving in," he said.
"Certainly, initially Louise seemed to get on very well with both CJ and with Shane. The happy start did not last for very long."
Text messages from Louise to and her aunt CJ, which were shown to the jury, described the three of them as a "perfect family".
However, later messages between Louise and her friends were said to show evidence of rising tensions, as CJ barred Louise's boyfriend from staying at the home.
Mr Mays was alleged to have warned Louise that if she did not start helping around the home, he would start to "get stricter" with her, the jury was told.
The court heard that in text messages sent to a friend just after midnight on May 7, the day before she died, Louise had said: "I cannot live here anymore … long story … they are just vile."
And while her boyfriend was at the flat, the court heard he witnessed Mr Mays allegedly flirting with Louise.
"Louise had spoke to [her boyfriend] about Mays flirting with her," Mr Newton-Price said.
"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'.
"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."
On May 8 - the day she went missing - the court heard Louise had been texting friends saying she had the "worst hangover going" before posting a selfie to Snapchat.
Jurors were told Mays and Louise had left home at midday and walked to Havant Thicket where the schoolgirl was killed. Her body was not found until May 21.
The last message Louise sent before she died was at 12.49pm, the court heard.
Mr Mays then allegedly disposed of the teen's phone and case, with CCTV recording him walking away from the scene.
He later showed up at his mum's house where jurors heard he was "sweaty and thirsty".
At 3pm, CJ called police when Louise failed to meet a friend.
The court heard that Mr Mays told both his mum and wife he had walked Louise to the skatepark.
Mr Mays had said to CJ, "Louise takes the piss. She just made me walk all the way to Emsworth Skate Park," the court heard.
Just hours after Louise's death, Mr Mays was seen buying four Tesco pizzas, the court heard.
Mr Newton-Price said: "He knows Louise is dead by this time.
"He knew he had killed her, he knew where the body was, but he plainly did not want to admit that or tell the police where the body was. He told a series of lies that were intended to deflect blame."
Jurors heard how Louise's "severely decomposed" body was found on May 21.
A post-mortem showed "repeated blows from a heavy object such as a large branch or small log across her face", it was said.
Mr Newton-Price said her central facial skeleton was "shattered".
The court heard that Louise's jaw bone was completely detached and her body was "burned and violated" during the "violent and unlawful" killing.
Her "defiled" body suggested Mr Mays "had a sexual interest in her", the jury was told.
Jurors also heard how Mr Mays may have returned to the scene the next day to burn the body.
Mr Newton-Price said: "A determined attempt had been made to destroy her body. It was so badly burnt and damaged by fire as to be unrecognisable.
"Her body had been subjected to extreme violence and violation. This included repeated and heavy blows to her head.
"The bones and the structure of her face had been shattered. Her jawbone was completely detached from the skull. Her body had also been penetrated in a terrible way."
He added: "There are grounds to believe that part of the motivation for her murder was sexual."
Initially during the police investigation, Mr Mays and his wife were arrested on suspicion of kidnap.
But after her body was found, Mr Mays was charged with murder and his wife was freed on bail.
Mays has an intermediary with him in the dock to help him understand proceedings as he "suffers from learning disabilities".
He denies one charge of murder but admits manslaughter.
The trial continues.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission
Originally published as Uncle's horrid act before killing teen