Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Lucy McHugh: Murder accused claims girl was 'obsessed' with him

Lucy McHugh Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Lucy McHugh was stabbed to death in July 2018

A man accused of murdering a teenager said the girl had been "stalkerish" towards him, a court has heard.

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.

Winchester Crown Court heard a transcript of police interviews in which Mr Nicholson described how Lucy had an "obsession" with him.

"Lucy was really stalkerish, my work rotas she would go through them to find out when I was finishing," said in the interview.

"She would follow me around the house... sitting on my lap, pressing up against me.

"It was like an obsession."

He told police he had complained to her mother and mother's partner, adding: "I wouldn't stay at home so I wasn't alone with Lucy."

He said at one point Lucy had said to him, "I'm pregnant, I'm going to tell Mummy you it was you," and had also taken clothes and other items from his room.

Asked if there had been any sexual contact with Lucy, he told police: "Nothing at all."

In the interview he said: "I've heard her say all this dumb stuff constantly," adding he had ignored and blocked messages from Lucy.

"I didn't want to encourage anything," he told police.

'Next dead body'

In the interview he said he got rid of his phone in a public bin after hearing the police wanted to speak to him after Lucy's death.

He said: "I buy large quantities of weed from some not very nice people. I would have been the next dead body you found."

Asked why he had burned his trainers, he said he had split them while clearing his mother's shed. He said he had also banged his head while clearing the shed and burned them along with with "all sorts of rubbish".

The court was told the search for evidence was the "largest fingertip search ever carried out in the UK", covering 5,000 square metres and involving officers from 12 police forces.

The jury was shown items recovered close to Tanners Brook, including a bloodstained blue hoody and tracksuit bottoms with a burn mark and blue surgical gloves in the pocket.

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

The court also heard evidence from the mother of a school friend of Lucy's.

She said Lucy would visit her home after school early in 2018 and would ask to stay overnight.

The woman told the court Lucy said she was "scared to go home". Asked if it was down to anything in particular, she replied it was "her lodger".

The woman also said Lucy had told her she was "having a sexual relationship" with the lodger. After she said she would tell Lucy's mother, Lucy changed to saying it was "just kissing".

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, Southampton, also denies sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl in 2012.

The trial continues.

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