UPDATE: Lucy McHugh murder – Stephen Nicholson jailed for life
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The man found guilty of murdering 13-year-old Lucy McHugh was today (19 July) sentenced to life in prison.
Stephen-Alan Paul Nicholson, aged 25, of no fixed abode, was found guilty yesterday of murdering Lucy, as well as sexual offences relating to Lucy and to a 14-year-old girl in 2012.
Today at Winchester Crown Court he was sentenced to a minimum of 33 years in prison for the murder.
He was also sentenced to 17 years for each of the three counts of rape and nine months for one count of sexual activity with a child. These will run concurrent.
Lucy’s body was found in woodland at Southampton Sports Centre at around 7.45am on 26 July 2018.
She had been stabbed a number of times and detectives launched an extensive and detailed investigation.
Thousands of hours of CCTV footage were scanned and the movements of Lucy and Nicholson that day were gradually pieced together.
In August - following the biggest fingertip search in British policing history - officers found items of Nicholson’s burnt clothing at Tanner’s Brook in Southampton.
These were to be forensically linked beyond doubt to Nicholson, while mobile phone satellite data proved that he was at Tanner’s Brook the morning of Lucy’s murder.
Nicholson was charged with Lucy’s murder and a number of sexual offences on 14 November.
He was found guilty of:
- Murder of Lucy McHugh
- Three counts of rape of a child under 13 (Lucy)
- One count of sexual activity with a child under 16 (a girl aged 14 in 2012)
He was found not guilty of:
- Two counts of sexual activity with a child under 16 (Lucy)
Detective Superintendent Paul Barton said:
“Our thoughts are with Lucy’s family and friends, who will never see her fulfil her hopes and dreams.
“Stephen Nicholson has been shown to be a predatory paedophile who lured a 13-year-old girl to her brutal death.
“This was a case that shocked the city and the support we received from the local community was excellent.
“The investigation faced a number of challenges and my officers and staff deserve enormous credit for their efforts in gathering evidence.
“This showed the high tech approach required in modern day policing, alongside good, old-fashioned detective work.
“Yesterday's guilty verdict is testament to the bravery of the witnesses who gave evidence to bring this violent and manipulative man to justice.
“He continues to show no remorse for what he has done and has put Lucy’s family through the ordeal of a trial.”
He added: "This lengthy sentence reflect the severity of the offences Nicholson has been convicted of.
"This is a minimum sentence and I am satisfied he will no longer be a danger to anyone in our communities."