Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Lucy McHugh murder trial: Teacher 'alerted social services'

Lucy McHugh Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Lucy McHugh's body was found in woodland at Southampton Sports Centre on 26 July 2018

A murder trial has heard social services took no action over a report a "vulnerable" 12-year-old girl had a "boyfriend" living in her home.

Lucy McHugh, 13, was found stabbed to death in woodland at Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre in July 2018.

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

A schoolteacher told Winchester Crown Court she raised concerns about Lucy with social services in June 2017.

Emma Wright, assistant head teacher at St Anne's Catholic School, said a pupil had reported that Lucy, then aged 12, had a 16-year-old boyfriend named "Stephen".

She said Lucy explained to her Stephen was a 23-year-old man who lived in her house, but was not her boyfriend.

'Confrontational and angry'

Ms Wright said she decided to contact the multi-agency safeguarding hub because "I thought there were a lot of men with access to her without mum in the house".

Lucy's mother Stacey White was "unconcerned" about the report and was later "confrontational and angry" over the social services referral, the teacher told the court.

Social services later ruled there was "nothing to substantiate the relationship with Stephen", Ms Wright said.

"I expressed my concern about that decision," she told the court.

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

Lucy's next school, Redbridge Community School, also contacted social services, the court heard.

Teacher Nicola Franklin-Allan said she was alerted by a pupil in February 2018 that Lucy was "having sex" with someone called Stephen who lived with her.

Lucy denied it and was known to "make things up", she said.

The teacher said social workers later reported they had no concerns and the matter had been investigated while Lucy was at St Anne's.

Earlier the partner of Lucy's mother, Richard Elmes, was asked whether he had visited the sports centre on the day of the alleged murder or had provided information to Mr Nicholson before his arrest.

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

Mr Elmes, who lived with Lucy, said he stayed at home that day, 25 July.

James Newton-Price QC, defending, asked him about an internet search he made shortly after midday, using the words: "Best way of getting DNA off a dead person."

Mr Elmes said it related to an inheritance dispute within his family.

The barrister asked him why he had also searched for "how to find a lost phone" of the same brand as the defendant's.

Mr Elmes said he was trying to help a neighbour whose phone was missing.

The witness denied sending messages to the defendant on 27 July about DNA evidence and other details in the case.

He also gave evidence that he became aware the defendant, whom he described as having been his "best friend", had been selling cannabis at their home.

Mr Elmes had told the court he asked Mr Nicholson to leave the house because of ongoing arguments with Lucy.

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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