A care worker has been jailed for at least 33 years for the “execution-style” rape and murder of Lucy McHugh.
Stephen Nicholson was found guilty of raping and murdering the schoolgirl after she told him she was pregnant with his child.
The 25-year-old repeatedly raped the schoolgirl, with who he had a secret year-long relationship with, before stabbing her to death.
Lucy McHugh was exploited by Stephen Nicholson, a court heard
Sentencing the murderer, Mrs Justice May said: “This was a pitiless attack on a child following months of sexual exploitation.
“The prosecution has described it as an execution and I am satisfied this is correct.
“The combination of his cold narcissism and hot anger dictated that she had to be put out of the way and he saw to it that this was done.”
Nicholson was also given 17-year concurrent prison sentences for each of the rape charges he faced, and was also jailed for nine months to run concurrently for the offence of sexual activity with a child in relation to another unnamed girl.
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The trial heard how Nicholson had “an interest in under-age sex” and exploited the “vulnerable” 13-year-old, who was found with stab wounds to her neck and upper body near Southampton Sports Centre last summer.
Care worker found guilty of rape and murder of Lucy McHugh, 13
Stephen Nicholson, 25, killed the 13-year-old after she told him she was pregnant.
She had been slashed with a knife 27 times and died from “catastrophic bleeding” two miles from her home, with a blood-stained hoodie containing DNA from both Lucy and Nicholson found near her body.
Twenty stab wounds and seven slice wounds were identified across her face, upper chest and forearms, caused by a single-bladed knife.
Detective Superintendent Paul Barton, of Hampshire Police, told the Press Association after the trial: “I would describe Nicholson 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 yet with his sexual appetite.
“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.”
Nicholson had been a lodger at the home of Lucy, her mother Stacey White and stepfather Richard Elmes, who was his best friend, but he denied he had been in a sexual relationship with the girl.
He told Winchester Crown Court that she was “stalkerish” and that he pushed her away because she followed him around, adding: “We didn’t get along… at the same time, I do not feel any child should be killed.”
Prosecutor William Mousley QC read a letter from Lucy found on 26 July last year, the day after she died, which was addressed to Nicholson.
It said: “I have missed my period for almost two months. To be honest I think I am pregnant.”
Nicholson, of no fixed address, was asked whether she was killed for asking for money and threatening to tell her mother she was pregnant, to which he replied he was “not interested”.
Stephen Nicholson is alleged to have repeatedly stabbed the schoolgirl
He later said: “I have never slept with anyone underage so I know I am not a paedophile.”
One of her friends told the court Lucy – who had been diagnosed with ADHD and referred to child mental health services – loved Nicholson and he had taken her virginity.
The girl said she told her mother, who contacted Ms White, who then rejected the claims as “fantasies” and said social services had already looked into the allegations.