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Man jailed for life over 'execution-style' murder and rape of schoolgirl

Sky News logo Sky News 19/07/2019

a person posing for the camera: Stephen Nicholson (L) has been convicted of killing Lucy McHugh © PA Stephen Nicholson (L) has been convicted of killing Lucy McHugh A care worker has been jailed for at least 33 years for the "execution-style" rape and murder of Lucy McHugh.

Stephen Nicholson was been found guilty of raping and murdering the schoolgirl after she told him she was pregnant with his child.

The 25-year-old repeatedly raped the schoolgirl, with whom he'd had a secret year-long relationship, before stabbing her to death.

The trial heard how Nicholson had "an interest in under-age sex" and exploited the "vulnerable" 13-year-old, who was found with stab wounds to her neck and upper body near Southampton Sports Centre last summer.

She had been slashed with a knife 27 times and died from "catastrophic bleeding" two miles from her home, with a blood-stained hoodie containing DNA from both Lucy and Nicholson found near her body.

Twenty stab wounds and seven slice wounds were identified across her face, upper chest and forearms, caused by a single-bladed knife.

a close up of a boy: Lucy McHugh was exploited by Stephen Nicholson, a court heard © PA Lucy McHugh was exploited by Stephen Nicholson, a court heard

Detective Superintendent Paul Barton, of Hampshire Police, said: "I would describe Nicholson as cold and calculated, I would describe him as a paedophile and I think he is someone who only thinks about himself and has taken full advantage of this family that have looked after him, provided a roof over his head yet with his sexual appetite.

"He has targeted Lucy, taken advantage of her and when she wanted a relationship with him, he has taken the decision to silence her once and for all by brutally killing her."

Nicholson had been a lodger at the home of Lucy, her mother Stacey White and stepfather Richard Elmes, who was his best friend, but he denied he had been in a sexual relationship with the girl.

He told Winchester Crown Court that she was "stalkerish" and that he pushed her away because she followed him around, adding: "We didn't get along... at the same time, I do not feel any child should be killed."

Prosecutor William Mousley QC read a letter from Lucy found on 26 July last year, the day after she died, which was addressed to Nicholson.

It said: "I have missed my period for almost two months. To be honest I think I am pregnant."

Nicholson was asked whether she was killed for asking for money and threatening to tell her mother she was pregnant, to which he replied he was "not interested".

He later said: "I have never slept with anyone underage so I know I am not a paedophile."

One of her friends told the court that Lucy - who had been diagnosed with ADHD and referred to child mental health services - loved Nicholson and he had taken her virginity.

The girl said she told her mother, who contacted Ms White, who then rejected the claims as "fantasies" and said social services had already looked into the allegations.


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