Lucy McHugh funeral: 'Celebration of life' held for murdered Southampton schoolgirl

Aubrey Allegretti, news reporter

Mourners have paid tribute to murdered schoolgirl Lucy McHugh by wearing her favourite colours to her funeral.

Family and friends of the 13-year-old wore blue and green at the ceremony to commemorate her.

Lucy's body was found in woodland at Southampton Sports Centre last month.

Stacey White, the young girl's mother, said her funeral was to be a "celebration of her life".

Her body was brought to the chapel in a hearse pulled by two white horses.

Lucy's family said in a eulogy she was a "little hurricane of smiles and lip gloss" who wore "the brightest colours possible, with no care for what anyone thought".

"She was a real individual and never followed the crowd," they continued.

"Lucy respected everybody regardless of their colour or creed.

"She loved playing football, she loved cooking, she loved making cakes, she was on the gymnastics team."

Lucy adored small children and walking the dog with her grandparents, the eulogy added.

A donations page set up to raise £5,000 towards costs for Lucy's funeral received more than £6,000 in two days, ultimately totalling £7,185.

Lucy's father Andy McHugh did not attend the funeral, saying he wanted to avoid "unnecessary conflict".

He posted on Facebook: "To honour my daughter and avoid unnecessary conflict I have made the difficult decision not to attend the public celebration of Lucy's life.

"I am arranging an alternative service for those who wish to honour Lucy and say goodbye, but have felt unable to attend the public event."

He added: "Yes I have not seen my daughter for four years but it doesn't mean I am not hurting she was my daughter as well."

Stephen-Alan Nicholson, who was arrested on suspicion of murder and sexual activity with a child, was released on police bail on July 31.

He was remanded in custody at Southampton Magistrates' Court after being charged under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) for failing to give up his Facebook password to detectives.

The 24-year-old careworker and part-time tattooist will next appear at Southampton Crown Court on August 31.

Hampshire police have made repeated appeals to the public, including screening CCTV footage of Lucy's last known movements to the crowd at Southampton Football Club's St Mary's Stadium a few weeks ago.

Crimestoppers is offering a £10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of her killer.

Anyone with information should call 101 quoting Operation Refund or visit the UK police major incident public reporting website.