Lucy McHugh: 13-year-old murdered by man who groomed her after moving into mother’s home, court hears


A care worker with “an interest in underage sex” groomed and raped schoolgirl Lucy McHugh for a year before he murdered her, a court heard.

Stephen Nicholson, 25, is accused of repeatedly stabbing the “vulnerable” 13-year-old in the neck and upper body in woodland at Southampton Sports Centre before leaving her to die.

The defendant, who is also a tattoo artist, is charged with murdering Lucy on 25 July last year, as well as three counts of rape against her when she was 12.

He also faces two charges of sexual activity with a child against Lucy on multiple occasions when she was 13.

Nicholson, of no fixed address, is also charged with sexual activity with a child in relation to another girl aged 14, dating back to 29 June 2012.

He denies the charges.
William Mousley QC, prosecuting, told Winchester Crown Court that there was a “compelling” case against Nicholson.

He said: “This case concerns the vicious murder of Lucy McHugh, a 13-year-old girl, in woodland within the precincts of the outdoor Southampton Sports Centre.

“She was repeatedly stabbed to the neck and upper body and she bled to death as a result.
“The killer, who the prosecution alleges was Stephen Nicholson, then left her either dying or dead in a large area of woodland and made his escape.

“It had clearly been the intention of her attacker to kill her; in other words, she had been murdered.”

Mr Mousley said the defendant “had an interest in under-age sexual activity” and had a collection of knives.

He said Nicholson had been a lodger at the home Lucy shared with her mother, Stacey White, her mother’s partner, Richard Elmes, and her siblings.

Mr Mousley said that, for more than a year, Nicholson had exploited Lucy, who he described as vulnerable, and had a sexual relationship with her.

On this website we use first or third-party tools that store small files (cookie) on your device. Cookies are normally used to allow the site to run properly (technical cookies), to generate navigation usage reports (statistics cookies) and to suitable advertise our services/products (profiling cookies). We can directly use technical cookies, but you have the right to choose whether or not to enable statistical and profiling cookies. Enabling these cookies, you help us to offer you a better experience.