Lucy McHugh: Care worker guilty of murder of girl, 13, found raped and stabbed in woodland

Joe Gamp
Contributor, Yahoo News UK
Care worker Stephen Nicholson was found guilty at Winchester Crown Court (PA)

Care worker Stephen Nicholson has been found guilty of the “execution-style” murder of schoolgirl Lucy McHugh, who he killed to prevent her revealing his year-long abuse of her.

The 25-year-old showed no emotion as he was convicted at Winchester Crown Court of the 13-year-old’s murder as well as three counts of rape when she was aged 12.

Nicholson was also found guilty of sexual activity with a child in relation to another girl in 2012, who was aged 14.

Stephen Nicholson, 25, (right) in the dock at Winchester Crown Court

He was found not guilty of a further count of sexual activity with Lucy when she was 13.

The trial heard that Nicholson, described as a “predatory paedophile”, had abused Lucy for more than a year while living as a lodger at her family home.

Prosecutors said he groomed Lucy for more than a year before killing her, after threatening to tell her mother she was pregnant.

Prosecutor William Mousley QC, gave his closing statement after the jury spent eight hours deliberating (PA)

William Mousley QC said in his closing statement: “This is a case of lies and more lies in the face of an overwhelming case.

"There were times during Mr Nicholson's evidence that I was reminded of an old blues song called 'Born Under a Bad Sign'.

“It's a tale of someone who, through no fault of his own, was just always getting in trouble."

Clothing containing DNA profiles from both Lucy and defendant Stephen Nicholson, was shown to the jury (Hampshire Constabulary)

A postmortem examination found Lucy suffered multiple stab wounds, including three fatal wounds to her neck.

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

Ms McHugh's mother, Stacey White, arriving at Winchester Crown Court on Thursday (PA)

After applying through the US courts for access to his account, prosecutors only received a log of his Facebook contacts with Lucy, but not the content of any messages. It finally arrived the day that the trial started.

Detective Superintendent Paul Barton of Hampshire Police said: “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.

“There are a lot of signs which would suggest that Nicholson had been planning this, maybe only for just a few days.

A pair of blue surgical gloves found at Tanner's Brook, Southampton, close to where Ms McHugh's body was found (HAMPSHIRE CONSTABULARY)

“All these things indicate to me that he knew exactly what he was doing, which makes this even more vicious.”

Nicholson, who denied all charges, is due to be sentenced on Friday morning.

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