On the 22nd August 2009, Paula Hounslea (37) was last seen by her family when they dropped her off at her home after a family meal at a Chinese restaurant. Paula lived with her only daughter, Lois, in Culme Road, West Derby, Liverpool.
The next morning, on 22 August 2009, Lois claims that Hounslea went into her room and told her that she was going to stay with a friend named Vicky for a few days. Lois claimed that Paual left that morning carrying a number of bags of clothes.
At 17:50, Lois' phone received a text message from Paula's phone saying that she was going to stay with a friend. A message was also sent to Vicky's phone from Paula's saying that she was going away for a few days. It was later established that Paula had booked and paid for a hotel room for that night, but never arrived to check in.
The alarm was raised when it was discovered that Paula had not stayed with Vicky and had not called her parents, which was said to be out of character. Paula's cash card was used to withdraw money on a number of separate occasions in the days following her disappearance. At an inquest in 2014, police files revealed that a total of £850 was withdrawn from her account after she disappeared, including a £200 withdrawal made at 03:23. Police have stated that both Hounslea and her daughter knew the PIN for the card.
During the period of her disappearance, an apparent attempt to phone Vicky had been made from Paula's phone; however, technical problems prevented the call from being connected. A total of 176 calls were made to Paula's voicemail after her disappearance. These calls came from Vicky, and Paula's parents and sisters; none came from her daughter Lois.
The Discovery of Paula's Body
On 5th May 2012, Paula's body was found by a dog walker next to the loop line cycle path in Fazakerley, Liverpool near its junction with Blackthorn Road. The dog discovered the bones on an embankment in what appeared to be an old fire pit. The male dog walker called the police immediately.
The body was identified using Paula's medical and dental records/ A 20 cm kitchen knife was found in the fire pit alongside Hounslea's body, similar to knives used at her home. Discovered with the body was some melted blue plastic of the type used to make wheelie bins. Police have been unable to establish exactly when Hounslea was killed but stated that the body was dumped in the fire pit at some time between September 2011 and January 2012.
On the 13th June 2012, Lois (21) and her boyfriend, Kevin Kavanagh (20), were arrested on suspicion of murder. They were released on bail the next day and the house Lois shared with her mother was sealed off for forensic examination. Lois and Kevin were released without charge in August 2013 due to insufficient evidence.
At an inquest, prosecutors stated there was not enough evidence to charge Lois and Kavanagh as there was "no realistic prospect of conviction". Lois was twice summoned to appear at her mother's inquest but failed to attend both times claiming that she was unwell after suffering an asthma attack following an arrest for theft. Kavanagh appeared in the witness box but stated that he had been advised not to answer questions put by the coroner to avoid potential incrimination.