An accused murderer went to Tesco to buy pizzas after killing his wife’s vulnerable niece, a court was told today.
Shane Mays, of Havant, Hampshire, went on a shopping trip at roughly 5pm on May 8, hours after killing Louise Smith and trying to destroy her body, Winchester Crown Court heard.
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.
Mays and his wife had been taking care of Louise, 16, for just two weeks before she was reported missing. Her body was found 13 days later at Havant Thicket.
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.
Mr Newton-Price, commenting on the shopping trip which was captured on CCTV images at around 5pm on May 8, 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.”
By 6pm, CJ Mays had called the police and flagged up Louise as a vulnerable girl, sparking the major investigation which would ultimately lead to her and Shane Mays being arrested, the prosecutor said.
Mays had told officers he got on well with the missing girl, but added she spoke to a lot of boys on social media, Mr Newton-Price told the jury.
Mr Newton-Price added: “He [Mays] made what seemed to be a surprising comment. He said he would lock Louise in the bedroom if she returned. He asked the police officer if it was okay to restrain her.”
Police officers started to suspect the couple of being involved in the death of Louise after Shane Mays’ story about walking the girl to Emsworth Skate Park did not match up with CCTV footage, the court heard.
The final CCTV images of Louise showed her walking with Mays on May 7, the night before she went missing, having gone shopping for ice at Tesco, the jury were told.
That night, Louise had been drinking alcohol heavily at the Mays’ flat, where she sent Snapchat messages saying she had fallen unconscious, the court heard.
Investigators relied on telephone evidence to piece together the girl victim’s movements the following day, where they said she had left the Mays’ home in Ringwood House in Somborne Drive and headed north towards the Havant Thicket while the nation celebrated VE day.
Mr Newton-Price said: “Louise disappeared sometime after 12.49pm on that day. Her auntie, CJ, frantically tried to contact Louise by phone from about 3pm that afternoon.
“When she failed to come home as expected, CJ eventually reported Louise missing.
“Shane Mays told the police that he had walked Louise to a recreation ground or a skate park in Emsworth. It is almost three miles from her home. He said that he had left her there in the early afternoon of that day.
“We suggest that Louise went to Havant Thicket with Shane Mays or that she met him at some point after 1pm and that they walked there together. There must have been some reason or some inducement for her to walk up there with him but we cannot say what that was.
“Shane Mays knew Havant Thicket well. He was a local man, he grew up in Leigh Park. He went to primary school with a brother and sister. The three of them regularly camped in the wooded area.
“Shane Mays killed her there. He took her mobile phone and threw it and the phone case into the woods as he left the scene of the killing.”
The court heard how, after allegedly murdering Louise, Mays had visited his mother, who described her son as looking hot and sweaty and recalled him claiming to have walked the girl to Emsworth.
He repeated the claim to CJ Mays when he returned to their home, the court heard, adding: “Louise takes the p***. She just made me walk all the way to Emsworth Skate Park.”
Jurors were told how Louise had accused Mays of “flirting” with her and said he put his arms around her, tickled her and pinned her down while she was living with him, the jury were told.
Louise’s boyfriend had witnessed an incident where Mays had responded by accusing Louise of flirting with him, the prosecutor said.
Mr Newton-Price said: “Louise spoke about Shane flirting with her. He would put his arms round her and he would touch her and pin her down and things like that.
“Shane said that he felt like Louise was flirting with him. Her boyfriend got the impression that they were both saying that the other flirted with them but both denied that they flirted with the other.”
Mays had an intermediary with him in the dock, the jury were told by Mrs Justice May DBE, who added that the defendant had certain learning difficulties which meant he needed help understanding what was being said.
The High Court Judge added: “The fact that Shane Mays is being helped by an intermediary must not affect how you assess the evidence in this case and is not a reflection on him.”
Earlier in the opening statement 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.”