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Stephen Nicholson jailed for murdering 13-year-old Lucy McHugh

|News, Violent crime

A paedophile who groomed a 13-year-old girl after moving into her family home then killed her to keep her silent has today been jailed for murder.

Stephen Nicholson began abusing Lucy McHugh from the age of 12 her after moving in with her family in Southampton.

When the teenager threatened to expose details of their relationship, he lured her into woodland near a sports centre where he stabbed her repeatedly.

John Montague for the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Stephen Nicholson is a narcissistic individual who killed Lucy McHugh in a cold and callous manner.

“He preyed on Lucy from the age of 12, grooming her into having a sexual relationship with him. Killing her was his only way to silence her as he feared she would reveal the true nature of their relationship.

“Lucy’s killing was pre-meditated and planned. He lured her to her death after arranging to meet her and knew he was going to kill her.”

Jurors at Winchester Crown Court on 18 July 2019 found Nicholson guilty of murder and three charges of raping Lucy.

He was also convicted of sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl in 2012, who he had taken to the same woodland where Lucy was found dead years later.

Mr Montague added: “Lucy had her entire life to look forward to and Nicholson showed no remorse for what he had done to her. He also showed complete contempt for her family who had offered him shelter by claiming Lucy was pestering him and implied someone else in the household might be responsible for her murder.”

Stephen Nicholson was sentenced on 19 July 2019 to life in prison, to serve a minimum of 33 years.

Building the case

The Crown Prosecution Service and Hampshire Police have worked very closely and collaboratively from the outset of this case.

Officers reviewed thousands of hours of CCTV in an attempt to piece together the whereabouts of Stephen Nicholson and the last movements of Lucy.

The police conducted a 25000 square meter fingertip search, which revealed the partly burned Tesco bag containing Stephen Nicholson’s ‘murder kit’ - a blue hoody stained with Lucy’s blood and bloodstained gloves, one of which provided a DNA match to demonstrate that he had worn it.

Next to the bag was a pair of black tracksuit bottoms and a burnt waistband from a piece of clothing and next to that was a scorched area where a small fire had been set had been found.

Mr Montague added: “My job in building this case was to distil the huge amount of evidence gathered by the police to present it to the jury so they could fully understand the complexity of this case.

“It was our case that Nicholson had a sickening interest in underage girls. Evidence was presented that he had engaged in sexual activity with two girls other than Lucy.

“He exploited Lucy’s vulnerability by starting a sexual relationship with her when she was only 12.

“When she probably decided to expose him he decided to silence her, putting together his premeditated attack into motion, ensuring that his tracks would be carefully covered.

“What he had not accounted for was the tremendous work that Hampshire Police and the CPS have carried out to prove to the jury that he murdered Lucy.

“This conviction today is a result of our relentless efforts to deliver justice for Lucy.

“We would like to thank all the witnesses who came forward in this case and our thoughts go to the family of Lucy in this very painful moment.”

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