A review by the Hampshire Safeguarding Children Partnership has revealed that Louise reported being raped by ‘one of her peers’ – but the 16-year-old was not given enough support by police, with Covid-19 restrictions being a possible explanation.
The 16-year-old was not fully supported when Hampshire police told her no further action would be taken over the allegation, according to the report.
Louise Smith was murdered and her body left in Havant Thicket on May 8, 2020, with Shane Mays, 30, from Havant, later jailed for life after being found guilty of killing the schoolgirl.
The case shocked the area and the nation, with The News covering the tragedy from Louise’s disappearance to the prosecution describing the ‘breathtaking brutality’ of Mays’ crime.
Now the safeguarding report, by independent scrutineer Jon Chapman, has found that Hampshire Constabulary should ‘review its process when providing victims of rape and serious sexual assault with an investigative outcome’ after failings over the prior allegation.
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’.
The review also 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’.
Mays’ murder trial heard that Louise had a social worker, but the review said that, at the time of her death, a Children and Families Assessment was still being undertaken because she ‘had moved from one extended family member’s home to another and was considered at risk of homelessness’.
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.