Louise Smith: Search at block of flats in Leigh Park as woman lays single rose at Havant Thicket

Officers are searching a block of flats in Leigh Park in relation to the investigation into Louise Smith’s disappearance.

By Ben Fishwick
Friday, 22nd May 2020, 10:32 am
Updated Saturday, 23rd May 2020, 9:57 am

Teams were in Ringwood House in Somborne Drive today taking away possessions, while scenes of crimes officers were also present.

They were reportedly searching a first-floor flat in the block. The road is where 16-year-old Louise was last seen at around midday on VE Day.

Officers removed bags of possessions, including a plastic storage box.

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Officers carry out bagged items from a property in Leigh Park, after a body was found in woodlands during the search for missing 16 year-old Louise Smith. Picture: Jordan Pettitt/Solent News & Photo Agency

Meanwhile, someone living in the apartment block said that on VE Day, when Louise went missing, he saw a 'red van' outside the block of flats which a girl got into with bags of clothes.

The man said: ‘On VE Day I saw a red van outside the flats and a girl getting into it with bundles of clothes.

‘I reported this to police as it didn't feel right... I can't say if it was definitely her but it was a girl around her age.’

Police launched a potential murder investigation on Thursday after officers found a body at Havant Thicket just a mile and a half from Louise's mother's home in Havant.

A woman pays tribute at the scene in Havant Thicket, where a body was found during the search for missing 16 year-old Louise Smith. Picture: Jordan Pettitt/Solent News & Photo Agency

Officers had been looking for her for almost two weeks, since she was last seen on VE Day. They previously a arrested a man and woman, both aged 29, on suspicion of kidnap.

Police officers guarded the door of a flat being searched by forensics officers in white PPE overalls searched inside.

One middle aged woman who lives in the block today said: ‘We had sniffer dogs yesterday. Over the past week we've had vans arriving and taking clothing, carpets - basically everything.

‘There's been a huge police presence and they've been bringing loads out.’

Police at Havant Thicket on Friday, May 22, after finding a body during a search for missing 16-year-old girl Louise Smith. Picture: Sarah Standing (220520-2673)

Police remain at Havant Thicket after a body was found in the search for teeanger.

Earlier on Friday a woman was seen laying a single pink rose in floral tribute.

Around six police vehicles were seen at the two entrances to the site, off Manor Road Lodge, this morning a day after police confirmed officers found a body at the site yesterday.

Detectives are now investigating the death as suspicious. Formal identification has not been carried out.

As reported, 16-year-old Louise was last seen on VE Day, May 8, at around midday.

She was seen on CCTV at Tesco Metro, in Greywell Road, Leigh Park, the night before at 7.30pm.

The body was found after a search led by police involving Hampshire Search and Rescue. On Saturday the teams started searches in Havant Thicket and Staunton Country Park.

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Detective Chief Superintendent Scott Mackechnie yesterday said: ‘We know that news of this discovery will be very upsetting for the community, so I want to reassure you that we will be working around the clock to establish what has happened.

‘We will endeavour to provide you with further updates as soon as we can, but in the meantime we're asking the community not to speculate on the circumstances and instead provide all information to the police in the first instance, as this is crucial to helping our inquiries.

‘Thank you to everyone in the community who has offered their support so far and has assisted us with this investigation.’

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