A 25-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to the rape of 13-year-old Lucy McHugh at the start of his trial for her murder.
Carer Stephen Nicholson, of no fixed address, is charged with murdering the schoolgirl in July last year, which he denies.
At the start of the trial at Winchester Crown Court, he pleaded not guilty to three charges of rape against Lucy when she was 12 years old and two charges of sexual activity with a child when she was aged 13.
Lucy left her home in Mansel Road East, Southampton at about 9am on 25 July and her body was found the next morning in woodland nearly two miles away.
A post-mortem examination revealed she died from stab wounds.
Lucy’s mother, Stacey White, has described her daughter as an “angel” and as “a smiling, content little dolly, who everyone adored and cherished”.
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