Southampton murder suspect had been ‘living with Lucy McHugh’s family’ prior to 13-year-old’s death

A man suspected of murdering schoolgirl Lucy McHugh had been ‘living in her home’ prior to her death, according to a local resident.

The body of Lucy McHugh was discovered in a wooded area near Southampton Sports Centre on Thursday.

Lucy McHugh, the 13-year-old girl found dead in woodland in Southampton Picture: Hampshire Constabulary/PA Wire

Lucy McHugh, the 13-year-old girl found dead in woodland in Southampton Picture: Hampshire Constabulary/PA Wire

The 13-year-old was last seen at her home in Mansel Road East on Wednesday morning and was reported missing, before being found by a member of the public the following morning.

Police are currently searching the family home of a 24-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder and sexual activity with a child, who has been named locally as Stephen Nicholson.

Read More: Girl, 13, found dead in Southampton woodland was stabbed

A local resident said he was arrested at the house, also in Mansel Road East, on Thursday.

Floral tributes at the scene near Southampton Sports Centre, where 13-year-old Lucy McHugh was found stabbed to death. Picture: Ben Mitchell/ PA Wire

Floral tributes at the scene near Southampton Sports Centre, where 13-year-old Lucy McHugh was found stabbed to death. Picture: Ben Mitchell/ PA Wire

The resident, who asked not to be named, added: ‘He had been living in Lucy's house. He'd told them he had been kicked out by his mum.

‘Her mum had got him a job as a carer and he also did tattooing in a room he has set up in their house.’

Lucy's mother, Stacey White, has called for calm following the arrest and said violent threats would ‘not bring my angel back’.

In a social media post, she said: ‘Please can I ask that people are not passing blame on to family members of the person that has been arrested in connection with my precious daughter Lucy White's murder.

‘Making threats of violence to them will not bring my angel back.’

Officers have appealed for anyone who found a ‘sharp implement’ in the area near Southampton Sports Centre to get in touch.

A Hampshire Police spokesman said: ‘We cannot say at this stage whether this is a knife, scissors or other bladed implement.

'Even if someone has put an item in a bin, we will try and recover it.’

Read More: More than £5,000 raised for funeral of girl, 13, found dead in Southampton 

Detective Superintendent Paul Barton reiterated the force's appeal for anyone with any information about Lucy's last movements to contact them.

He said: ‘We know how shocked the community is and understand that emotions are running high.

‘However we ask people not to speculate on social media - it is unhelpful to the investigation and to Lucy's family.

‘Please allow us to do our job and find out what happened to Lucy.’

The teenager was last seen wearing a distinctive black jacket with white sleeves, with the logo for the band Falling In Reverse on the front and RADKE 01 in red on the back. She also wore camouflage leggings, a white vest top and black and white trainers.

A GoFundMe page set up to raise £5,000 towards costs for Lucy's funeral has so far received more than £6,000.