Murdered teenager ‘not supported fully’ by police after ‘rape by peer’, review into care finds
Murdered teenager Louise Smith may not have received appropriate support because of Covid-19 restrictions, a review of her care has found.
Shane Mays, 30, from Havant, Hampshire, was jailed for life and must serve a minimum of 25 years after being found guilty of killing the 16-year-old on VE Day 2020.
Louise, who was training to be a veterinary nurse, was “brutally” killed in Havant Thicket, with her body defiled and burnt.
The trial at Winchester Crown Court heard that Louise was “vulnerable”, suffered from anxiety and depression, and smoked cannabis.
She had moved in with Mays and his wife, Chazlynn Jayne (CJ), after quarrelling with her mother Rebecca Cooper.
A review by the Hampshire Safeguarding Children Partnership has now revealed that Louise reported being raped by “one of her peers” a year before her death.
It also found she was not given enough support when Hampshire Police told her no further action would be taken over the allegation.
The “impact of Covid” might have led to Louise not having a supporting professional there when she was informed, the review said.
The report, by independent scrutineer Jon Chapman, said the force should “review its process when providing victims of rape and serious sexual assault with an investigative outcome”.
It should also “put in place a mechanism to ensure that, wherever possible, this is done so in conjunction with a supporting person or professional present”.
Mays’ murder trial was told Louise had a social worker, while the review said that, at the time of her death, a Children and Families Assessment was being done because she “had moved from one extended family member’s home to another and was considered at risk of homelessness”.
The review said the agencies involved in Louise’s care failed to make sure there was continuing support as she moved from school to college.
It said she “had gone from a child who would readily engage with professionals to disengaging at college and no longer accessing the support offered”.
It added: “With the Child in Need plan drawing to an end, there is limited information to suggest that there was a continued strong collaborative multi-agency approach and her prior network of support had dissipated.”
The report said the involved agencies should ensure a “co-ordinated response” to provide ongoing care and support.
In February 2021, the Court of Appeal rejected a bid to increase Mays’ prison sentence after the Solicitor General claimed it was “unduly lenient”.
Lord Justice Davis, sitting with two other judges, concluded the sentence should not be altered.
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