Devastated pal of teen killed by uncle in 'sex murder' says 'I invited her to stay but hours later she was dead'
A TORMENTED pal of a 16-year-old girl killed by her uncle in a sex murder has told how she offered her refuge from him just hours before she died.
Louise Smith had been staying with her aunt CJ and her husband Shane, 30, in the weeks leading up to her death.
At first the trio "got on" and Louise wrote in texts to CJ how she wanted to call the pair "mum and dad" but the relationship soured.
The troubled teen had decided to move out of the one-bedroom flat in Havant and messaged family friend Samantha Burt on May 7 asking for a place to stay.
Tragically, Louise had a sudden change of heart after floating the idea with a social worker and ditched her plans to leave that night.
The next morning, she was lured to the woods by Mays, who smashed her skull in with a log in an act of "unimaginable cruelty" then burnt her body.
Samantha, 30, has now revealed how she is haunted over Louise's gruesome death and believes she may have been able to save the teen.
It comes after a bid by Louise's mum to have Mays' lenient sentence reviewed was successful.
He was jailed for life with a minimum term of 25 years.
Pal Samantha told The Sun Online: "I’ll feel guilty forever that I didn’t go and get her.
"I know I haven’t done anything wrong – but I can’t help feeling like I let Louise down.”
Louise had moved in with Mays after a row with her mum Rebecca Cooper but soon complained her uncle was "flirting with her" and complained she "hated" living with him.
In harrowing Facebook messages sent to Samantha on May 7, desperate Louise wrote: "I need your help x".
Samantha immediately called the aspiring veterinary nurse as she "cried hysterically" down the phone.
Louise told her she "wasn't happy" at her aunt's home and arrangements were made for her to stay with Samantha after the teen met her boyfriend.
Samantha said: "I just wanted her safe with me.
“I even told her what I was making for dinner – spaghetti bolognese – hoping that would entice her over.”
But just hours later, Louise messaged again saying she was staying with her killer after speaking with her social worker.
Samantha recalled: “I don’t know whether she spoke to her social worker or not.
“But if she did and they said she had to stay, then I blame social services for what happened.
“I told her she knew where I was if she needed me, and that was the last contact I had with her.”
Last movements – timeline of Louise’s death
May 7 – Final CCTV images show Louise walking with Mays from Tesco after getting ice, rum and Peach Schnapps
May 8, morning – Louise sends a Snapchat from her phone – the last-ever taken of the teen
May 8, 12pm – Phone evidence showed she left home and headed towards Havant Thicket. CJ later tells a pal she was seen leaving with Mays at midday.
May 8, 12.49pm – A final text is sent from Louise's phone
May 8, 1pm – Louise's phone pings to a phone mast in Havant Thicket
May 8, 3pm – Louise's boyfriend arrives at the Mays house to meet her but she isn't there. CJ 'frantically' calls her
May 8, 4.07pm – Mays goes out to buy pizza as CJ and Louise's boyfriend look for her. He returns home at 5.02pm
May 8, 6.32pm – CJ calls the police and reports Louise missing
May 21, 11.45am – Louise's body is found in Havant Thicket
May 8, onwards – Mays and CJ are visited by police over the next few days. Mays tells officers he would "lock Louise in the bedroom if she returned" and asks if it was "ok to restrain her".
Louise's final movements were captured on CCTV hours later as she walked with her killer to get a bottle of rum and some Peach Schnapps.
The next day as celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day rang out around the country, "utterly defenceless" Louise was lured to the woods.
Once there, Mays subjected her to "extreme violence and excruciating, overwhelming pain" as he inflicted "catastrophic" injuries.
The hulking 17-stone beast only stopped when he heard a "moaning" noise coming from the stricken teenager.
After the grisly killing, Mays was seen on CCTV footage at around 3.11pm making his way to his mum's house as Louise's body lay "terribly defiled" in the woods.
As a search was mounted for missing Louise, the fiend popped out to buy four pizzas from Iceland less than two hours after leaving the teen.
Samantha meanwhile was frantic with worry as officers searched her own home looking for Louise.
She said: "I wanted to believe so badly that she was still alive, and even tried to find her myself.”
The teenager was discovered two weeks later burnt and "severely decomposed" with her jaw bone completely detached.
Some of her injuries were too gruesome to publish after Mays "violated" her with "breathtaking brutality" as he feared he had got her pregnant.
Samantha is now tormented by the thought she could have saved Louise had the teen gone to stay with her in the hours before her death.
She said: "At first, I refused to believe she was dead.
"I was beside myself, blaming myself for not doing enough.
“I wish I’d insisted on going to get her that day. She’d still be here if I had.
"I’ll always regret it but she insisted she wanted to get her boyfriend first.”
When her body was found, Mays was charged with murder.
He originally told police he had walked with Louise to a skatepark in Emsworth, but later changed his version by admitting to causing her death at Havant Thicket.
It was one of many lies Mays spun in a hapless bid to cover his tracks.
Blood splatters were later found on Mays' trainers that were "one billion times more likely to be from Louise than anyone else".
The court was told the splatter was consistent with Mays punching Louise repeatedly either while she was standing or on the ground.
Mays later claimed to jurors attacked his niece after she got "aggressive" and hit him with a stick in a row over her smoking cannabis.
From there, Mays claimed he returned home to his wife CJ and later said he simply "forgot" about the killing.
When asked why he continued to batter the schoolgirl as she lay defenceless on the ground, Mays continued: "Because I was angry and lost control of myself.
“I’m not sure [if I broke her nose] I heard cracks but I’m not sure.”
But jurors saw through his lies and he was convicted of murder on December 8 after just two hours and 20 minutes of deliberation.
He was caged for life with a minimum of 25 years for the "especially grievous" killing.
Louise's heartbroken mum Rebecca Cooper slammed the "monster" for taking away a "part of my heart that will never be replaced".
While Louise's dad Bradley Smith told his daughter's killer he had been "tortured by nightmares" in an emotional victim impact statement.
Paying tribute to the teen, who called her Aunty Sammy, Samantha said: "She was a lovely, bubbly child, always looking for affection.
"We lost contact for a while – she was a teenager, busy with her own life – but she knew I was always there for her.
“I didn’t pester her, but I was only ever a message away.”
A probe has now been launched into social workers who allowed Louise to stay with her uncle.
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.”
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