A TATTOO artist accused of stabbing 13-year-old Lucy McHugh to death texted her mum “keep your chin up” during the desperate search for the schoolgirl, a court heard today.
Stephen Nicholson, 25, allegedly arranged to meet the schoolgirl in secluded woodland after she told him she was pregnant – knifing her in a “vicious” attack.
Lucy bled to death after being left with catastrophic knife wounds nearly two miles away from her Southampton home on July 25, last year.
Winchester Crown Court today heard a desperate hunt was launched after the teen was reported missing – with Nicholson feigning concern for her.
Texting Lucy’s mum Stacey White, he said: “I hope they find her safe. Police are good at their job and they will find her soon. Keep your chin up and stay positive.”
Lucy’s body was found nearly 24 hours after she had been killed by a dog walker.
The court previously heard Nicholson had been living with Lucy when he “exploited” the vulnerable girl and began a secret sexual relationship in May 2017 with her when she was 12 and he was 23, Winchester Crown Court heard last week.
Nicholson, of Southampton, denies murdering Lucy and three charges of raping her when she was 12.
He also denies two counts of sexual activity with her when she was 13 and a further count of the same charge relating to another victim, who was 14 at the time, five years earlier in 2012.
The jury has heard Nicholson “deleted” a series of Facebook messages between himself and Lucy the night before she went missing and on the morning of the killing.
When interviewed by police, he told them Lucy had demanded a meeting with him, telling him she was pregnant.
However, he said she was simply becoming obsessed with him and he blocked her.
During the hours after the attack, Nicholson is then alleged to have started using a new mobile phone and hid his old one, reset his Facebook password and lit a bonfire to destroy the trainers he was wearing.
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Lucy’s grandmother Dawn White, who often helped care for the young girl, said she had once witnessed a blazing row between an “irate” Nicholson and her granddaughter.
When asked if Nicholson was quick to anger, Mrs White added: “Very quick. At the flip of a coin.”
The trial continues.