A LODGER was today found guilty of raping and killing a 13-year-old schoolgirl after she told him she was pregnant.
"Predatory paedophile" Stephen Nicholson lured Lucy McHugh into woodland and stabbed her almost 30 times after she threatened to expose him as a sex abuser.
Nicholson, 25, who lodged with Lucy's family, repeatedly raped the schoolgirl during their secret year-long relationship.
The care worker slept in a bedroom directly opposite Lucy's after her step-dad Richard Elmes took in his childhood friend when he was released from jail.
Lucy, who was 12 when she was first raped, kept diaries and notes that laid bare his perverse "sexual interest" in underage girls.
She wrote that the "narcissistic" 25-year-old, who liked choking women during sex, was an "ass" when they were not being intimate.
In a blazing row at her home she warned him she had a "hold on him" and threatened to tell her mother, Stacey White, she was pregnant and it was his.
It was then that he lured her to Southampton woodland to rape and murder her.
The trial heard Nicholson was a "cold and calculated predatory paedophile" who preyed on vulnerable girls to satisfy his sexual appetite.
Lucy was found slashed with a knife 27 times on her neck and upper body and died from "catastrophic bleeding" two miles from her home.
Jurors found Nicholson guilty of murder and three counts of rape.
They heard he had told police that Lucy had sent him a message saying she was pregnant but Dr Purdue said blood tests showed she was not.
She later said that she had been referring to her mother being pregnant, the court heard.
'COLD AND CALCULATED'
A blood-stained hoodie containing DNA from both her and Nicholson was found near her body.
He was also convicted of sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl in 2012, who he had taken to the same woodland where Lucy was found dead years later.
Police investigating the murder only received crucial data from her Facebook account on the day her killer's trial started, it was revealed today.
Nicholson refused to hand over his password, claiming he was worried about cops uncovering his drug dealing.
Detectives were hampered due to strict privacy rules set by Facebook and US laws on access to accounts.
Detective Superintendent Paul Barton, of Hampshire Police, said Stephen Nicholson had exploited Lucy's family who had taken him in as a lodger when he had nowhere else to live and used their hospitality to target the 13-year-old for sex.
He said: "I would describe him as cold and calculated, I would describe him as a paedophile and I think he is someone who only thinks about himself and has taken full advantage of this family that have looked after him, provided a roof over his head.
"He has targeted Lucy, taken advantage of her and when she wanted a relationship with him, he has taken the decision to silence her once and for all by brutally killing her."
Mr Barton said he believes the murder of the 13 year old was premeditated as Nicholson had taken steps including ordering new trainers in advance, showing himself in different clothing on CCTV at a Tesco Express and by luring Lucy to the sports centre despite not being on talking terms with her.
'HE'D RAPE ME ANYWAY'
May 30, 2017: 'Last night was amazing. Mr Stephen Nicholson took my virginity. We slept together a number of times.
'It all started because we were playing Call of Duty Zombies and I elbowed him in the dick. He paused the game and pushed me down and was on top. We started kissing. He said 'I knew you liked me'.'
June 26, 2017: She detailed her performing oral sex on Nicholson, who admitted to the court he enjoyed 'soft choking' in the bedroom, and them having sex again.
She added: "I put my hands behind his neck but he put his hand on my neck. It was sort of breathable."
June 28, 2017: Described Lucy and Nicholson having sex again, saying: "He grabbed my neck tightly. It kind of hurt this time. I told him and he said 'good'."
Prosecutor William Mousley QC told jurors that in a letter addressed to Nicholson, she told him: "You are a complete ass unless we are having sex."
In another note entitled 'abuse', she wrote that he would 'make me….rape me anyway'
Just before Nicholson's 24th birthday in May last year, a terrified Lucy, who had been staying with her grandparents Dawn and Darren White at the time, revealed she had had a pregnancy scare.
She wrote to Nicholson: "I will be back for your birthday, so please get a pregnancy kit and some condoms because if I am not [pregnant] we will need to be careful."
After the verdict, Detective Inspector Lee Macarthur read a statement on behalf of Lucy's mother, Stacey White, outside court, saying: "I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart the support from our close family and friends during this harrowing time.
"The dedication from Hampshire Constabulary, the specialist teams across the country and the local communities helped to get justice for my precious daughter Lucy."
Mr Barton said the "major breakthrough" came when Nicholson's phone was identified as having entered an area of woodland called Tanner's Brook on his way home on the day of Lucy's death.
Cops then found clothing that has been described as the defendant's "murder kit", comprising of a blue hoody and other clothing which had DNA links to both Nicholson and Lucy.
Mr Barton said: "Our case at that point was a strong circumstantial case but by having the DNA evidence, that was the final nail in the coffin for Nicholson.
"This is one of the largest murder inquiries that Hampshire Police have seen over the years, we had hundreds of people working on this for many months, putting together a really comprehensive case which fortunately has seen Nicholson found guilty now."
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