Lucy McHugh trial: Man accused of murdering schoolgirl 'threatened to have her beaten up'

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A care worker accused of the murder of Lucy McHugh has told a court that claims by the schoolgirl that he had got her pregnant were ‘nonsense’.

Drug dealer Stephen Nicholson, of no fixed address, is accused of repeatedly stabbing the 13-year-old in the neck and upper body at Southampton Sports Centre before leaving her to die on July 25 last year.

Lucy McHugh. Picture: Hampshire Constabulary/PA Wire

Lucy McHugh. Picture: Hampshire Constabulary/PA Wire

The defendant, wearing a white shirt with tattoos visible on his forehead and neck, told Winchester Crown Court that, on the night before Lucy's death, he received a Facebook message from the teenager.

He said: ‘I received a message from Lucy on Facebook saying that she was going to tell her mum she was pregnant and I had done it unless I met her at Mansel Park.’

He added: ‘She was just making stuff up, trying to cause trouble, it was just nonsense. From my memory, I put something back like 'Yeah, whatever'.’

Nicholson said he moved in to Lucy's home with her mother, Stacey White, and stepfather, Richard Elmes, as a lodger in 2017 but he did not get on with the teenager and described her as ‘stalkerish’.

Court sketch of Stephen Nicholson, 25, (right) in the dock at Winchester Crown Court. Picture: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire

Court sketch of Stephen Nicholson, 25, (right) in the dock at Winchester Crown Court. Picture: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire

He said his clothing and other items would go missing and be found in Lucy's room.

READ MORE: Suspect 'dumped clothes with DNA links to schoolgirl', court hears

The defendant said: ‘We didn't see eye to eye. Things going missing, she would follow me around the house, always trying to get in my way and get involved in stuff that wasn't anything to do with her.’

He said he had written a text message saying he would pay a group of girls to beat Lucy up because he was ‘angry’ after ‘she tried to grab hold of me’ and ‘tried to push me down the stairs’.

Nicholson said that, on another occasion in the kitchen: ‘She stood right up against me. I pushed her away and told her to f*** off and Richard came in and said “What are you doing, you slut?”’

He said he had been unaware of notes and diary entries written by Lucy about sexual activity with him or that she had told school friends he was her boyfriend.

He said claims by her that she was pregnant and had an abortion were ‘nonsense’.

READ MORE: Schoolgirl ‘told friend that murder accused took her virginity’

He added: ‘Stacey had numerous phone calls, had to speak to social services, and all I was told was my name had been brought up but everything was sorted.’

Nicholson, a father of one, said he smoked and sold cannabis and would sell more than £500 worth a week and Lucy had been aware of his drug habit.

He said he moved out of Lucy's house the weekend before her death after ongoing arguments and after the teenager shouted at him ‘I have got a hold on you’, which he said referred to the cannabis.

The defendant denied having sex with a girl aged 14 in June 2012 in the woodland at the sports centre and said he had only given the teenager a tattoo, for which he was later fined by police.

Nicholson admitted he sometimes carried out ‘soft choking’ when having sex with women.

He explained: ‘That's applying pressure to side of the neck and not the windpipe during sexual activity. It can give a more intense feeling during sexual activity.’

He added that he also had a Prince Albert piercing to his penis.

The defendant said did tattooing as a ‘hobby’ and did not make money from it.

He also spoke of his reptile collection which had, over time, included 12 pythons, as well as chameleons, geckos, corn and vine snakes.

The 25-year-old defendant is charged with Lucy's murder as well as three counts of rape against her when she was 12.

He also faces a charge of sexual activity with a child against Lucy on multiple occasions when she was 13.

The jury was ordered to return a not guilty on a further charge of sexual activity with a child in relation to Lucy.

Nicholson is also charged with sexual activity with a child in relation to another girl aged 14, dated June 29 2012.

He denies the charges and the trial continues.