Carer Stephen Nicholson, 25, GUILTY of raping and murdering Lucy McHugh, 13, after she told him she was pregnant

A CARER has been found guilty of raping and killing a 13-year-old schoolgirl after she told him she was pregnant.

Stephen Nicholson, 25, stabbed Lucy McHugh to death in woodland near Southampton sports centre in July of last year.



Nicholson, who lodged with Lucy's family, repeatedly raped the schoolgirl during a secret year-long relationship right up until her death.

The trial at Winchester Crown Court heard how Nicholson was a "cold and calculated predatory paedophile" who preyed on vulnerable girls to satisfy his sexual appetite.

'COLD AND CALCULATED'

He first raped Lucy when she was 12 years old, and abused her before her death.

She was found slashed with a knife 27 times on her neck and upper body and died from "catastrophic bleeding" two miles from her home.

The trial has heard Nicholson told police that Lucy had sent him a message saying she was pregnant but Dr Purdue said blood tests showed she was not.

A blood-stained hoodie containing DNA from both her and Nicholson was found near her body.

Jurors today unanimously found Nicholson guilty of murder as well as 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.

Detective Superintendent Paul Barton, of Hampshire Police, said Stephen Nicholson had exploited Lucy's family who had taken him in as a lodger when he had nowhere else to live and used their hospitality to target the 13-year-old for sex.

He told PA: "I would describe him 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.

"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."

Mr Barton said he believes the murder of the 13 year old was premeditated as Nicholson had taken steps including ordering new trainers in advance, showing himself in different clothing on CCTV at a Tesco Express and by luring Lucy to the sports centre despite not being on talking terms with her.

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

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

More to follow…

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