Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Lucy McHugh murder trial: Schoolgirl stabbed to death 'while immobile'

Lucy McHugh Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Lucy McHugh's body was found in woodland at Southampton Sports Centre on 26 July

A schoolgirl died from 11 stab wounds to the neck that were inflicted while she was "immobile", a court has heard.

The body of Lucy McHugh, 13, was found in woodland at Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre in July 2018.

She bled to death after an artery was cut, a pathologist told Winchester Crown Court.

Stephen Nicholson, 25, who occasionally lived with Lucy and her family in Southampton, denies her murder.

The jury was shown the "heavily bloodstained" jacket Lucy was wearing when her body was found on 26 July.

Image copyright Hampshire Constabulary
Image caption Stephen Nicholson denies Lucy's murder

Pathologist Dr Basil Purdue said Lucy suffered multiple injuries to her face, chest and forearm, including 11 to her neck.

Three of the wounds would have been "rapidly fatal", he said.

"This was a controlled, repetitive action at a time when Lucy was immobile," the pathologist told the court.

Dr Purdue said one wound made him "wonder whether the assailant wanted to make it look like self-infliction".

Lucy's mother's partner, Richard Elmes, told the court she was a "lovely, bubbly, bright, intelligent" girl who took medication for autism.

He said the defendant was his childhood friend and they had reconnected after Mr Nicholson served a jail sentence.

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Media captionThe jury was previously shown CCTV of Lucy McHugh walking past Tesco Express

Mr Elmes told the court that a few days after Lucy's disappearance, he found a fragmented note in Lucy's handwriting in her jeans which had just been washed.

The jury heard that words on the fragments included "abuse", "so scared locked myself in the bathroom" and "walked away from sex with him, forced me back in".

James Newton-Price QC, defending, said social workers had been called to investigate "rumours at school" that Lucy was "in a relationship with Stephen", however, Mr Elmes said he had not been aware of the rumours.

Previously, the prosecution told the court the defendant had repeatedly abused Lucy over the course of a year-long "secret sexual relationship".

He told police after his arrest that Lucy sent him a Facebook message the night before her death saying she was pregnant, the jury previously heard. However, Dr Purdue said Lucy was not pregnant.

Mr Nicholson also denies three charges of raping Lucy when she was 12 and two counts of sexual activity with a child once she had turned 13.

The care worker, formerly of Mansel Road East, also denies sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl in 2012.

The trial continues.

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