Lucy McHugh murder trial: Schoolgirl ‘told friend that murder accused took her virginity’
Schoolgirl Lucy McHugh told a friend she was in love with the man accused of her murder and he had taken her virginity, a court has heard.
Carer Stephen Nicholson, of no fixed address, is accused of repeatedly stabbing the 13-year-old to the neck and upper body at Southampton Sports Centre in July last year, and leaving her to die.
The school friend, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told Winchester Crown Court Lucy had confided in her that the defendant was becoming increasingly violent towards her including slapping her and trying to force his way into her bedroom.
The trial has heard that Nicholson was a lodger in the house Lucy shared with her mother, Stacey White, and her stepfather, Richard Elmes, and the defendant had exploited the ‘vulnerable’ teenager for more than a year.
The friend said Lucy told her that Nicholson was her boyfriend in October 2017, when she was aged 12.
The girl said in a police interview shown to the court: ‘She started telling me she was with a 24/23-year-old called Stephen.
‘I asked if them two had done anything because I was really worried. She told me he took her virginity but when she told me she looked uncomfortable and scared.’
The girl said she told her mother, who contacted Ms White, who rejected the claims as ‘fantasies’ and said they had already been looked into by social services.
The friend said Lucy described the situation with Nicholson as getting worse in the following months and that she was being treated badly by her mother and her partner.
She said Nicholson was becoming increasingly violent including attempting to force his way into her bedroom.
The girl said: ‘Two weeks before she died she told me that Stephen was slapping her and getting more and more worse.’
She added that Lucy told her: ‘His weed-smoking was getting worse, he was trying to touch her, “He's getting violent, he's slapping me”.’
The girl said Nicholson became possessive over another boyfriend Lucy had and added that the defendant said ‘he would try to bash his head in’.
She said she advised Lucy to move out of the house to live with her grandparents.
‘She kept on saying she wanted to but she couldn't. She kept telling me not to worry and she would sort it but I kept worrying about her because she kept not looking right and not acting like she used to.’
The 25-year-old defendant is charged with Lucy's murder as well as three counts of rape when she was 12.
He also faces two charges of sexual activity with a child on multiple occasions when she was 13.
He is also charged with sexual activity with a child in relation to another girl aged 14, dated June 29 2012.
Nicholson denies the charges and the trial continues.