A man accused of brutally murdering a 16-year-old girl has told a court that he punched her repeatedly in the face but had not intended to kill her.
Shane Mays claimed he had struck Louise Smith after she hit him with a stick but told a jury he had not sexually assaulted her and had not defiled or tried to burn her body.
Mays, 30, of Havant, Hampshire, has admitted manslaughter but denies murdering Louise, whose body was found in woodland 13 days after vanishing on 8 May this year. The jury at Winchester crown court heard that Louise, who wanted to be a veterinary nurse, had suffered multiple blows to her head, causing her facial bone structure to collapse.
Mays told the court that Louise had started living with him and his wife, Chazlynn Jayne Mays – the girl’s aunt – at the end of April. He said she had been happy at first, but arguments started between them over chores at the flat and about her smoking cannabis.
After being shown a Snapchat video of him tickling Louise’s feet, he said he had not been flirting with her and said it was a “playful” act that he would do with “all the kids that came to stay”.
He said Louise wanted to refer to his wife and him as “mum and dad” and he sometimes regarded himself as like a father to her as she had lived with them previously.
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The defendant said that on 8 May Louise asked him to walk with her to pick up some clothes from a friend. He said she had led him to woodland at Havant Thicket, where she had attacked him with a stick after she had talked about smoking cannabis.
Mays said: “She was getting all aggressive about it and started shouting, raising her voice. She picked up this big stick and started hitting me on the side with it.
“I grabbed the branch off her, threw it on the floor, then I punched her. The first punch she was standing, the second punch she went down.” When asked if there had been blood on her face, he replied: “I heard cracks, but I am not sure.”
He said he continued punching her on the ground and added: “I was angry and I lost control of myself.”
Mays told the court that he had left school at the age of 15 and had previously worked as a mechanic, in factories and laying asphalt, but had not worked since he was 24.
He said he played video games such as Call of Duty, Need for Speed and Fortnite for nine hours a day and had used cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy.
The trial continues.
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