Lucy McHugh murder: Care worker Stephen Nicholson found guilty of rape and fatal stabbing

Stephen Nicholson, 25, repeatedly raped Lucy McHugh during their secret year-long relationship while he stayed at her home as a lodger. Last summer he stabbed her 27 times in her face, upper chest and forearms after she threatened to reaveal their relationship to her mother. She also told him she had missed her period for nearly two months and may be pregnant with him.

Nicholson lured his victim to a woodland near Southampton Sports Centre, two miles away from her home, where he murdered her “execution style”. 

A blood-stained hoodie containing DNA from both Lucy and Nicholson was found near the girl’s remains. 

The teenager died from “catastrophic bleeding” after being attacked with a single-bladed knife. 

Nicholson told Winchester Crown Court Lucy was  “stalkerish” and he denied having a sexual relationship with her. 

The trial heard that Lucy was “vulnerable” and had been diagnosed with ADHD. 

Police described Nicholson as having “an interest in underage sex” and being a “predatory paedophile”. 

He showed no emotion as he was convicted of three counts of rape of Lucy when she was aged 12 and of murdering her when she was 13.  

A letter writted by Lucy addressed to her attacker was read to the court by prosecutor William Mousley QC. 

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

A post mortem examination showed she was not pregnant at the time of her death on July 25 last year. 

Mr Mousley said the murder was premeditated and described it as an “execution-style” killing.

After the verdict, Detective Inspector Lee Macarthur read a statement on behalf of Lucy’s mother, Stacey White, outside the court.

It read: “I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart the support from our close family and friends during this harrowing time.

“The dedication from Hampshire Constabulary, the specialist teams across the country and the local communities helped to get justice for my precious daughter Lucy.”

Detective Superintendent Paul Barton, of Hampshire police, told PA after the trial: “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.”

The police investigation, described by the CPS as “one of the largest in criminal history”, was hampered when Nicholson refused to hand over his Facebook password.

He was also found guilty of sexual activity with a child in relation to another girl in 2012.

He will be sentenced on Friday.

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