British care worker Stephen Nicholson has been found guilty of the “execution-style” murder of schoolgirl Lucy McHugh, who he killed to prevent her revealing his year-long abuse of her.
The 25-year-old showed no emotion as he was convicted at Winchester Crown Court of the 13-year-old’s murder as well as three counts of rape when she was aged 12.
Nicholson was also found guilty of sexual activity with a child in relation to another girl in 2012, who was aged 14.
He was found not guilty of a further count of sexual activity with Lucy when she was 13.
Killer lived at Lucy’s family home
The trial heard that Nicholson, described as a “predatory paedophile”, had abused Lucy for more than a year while living as a lodger at her family home.
Prosecutors said he groomed Lucy for more than a year before killing her, after threatening to tell her mother she was pregnant.
William Mousley QC said in his closing statement: “This is a case of lies and more lies in the face of an overwhelming case.
"There were times during Mr Nicholson's evidence that I was reminded of an old blues song called 'Born Under a Bad Sign'.
“It's a tale of someone who, through no fault of his own, was just always getting in trouble."
A postmortem examination found Lucy suffered multiple stab wounds, including three fatal wounds to her neck.
‘He knew exactly what he was doing’
The investigation into her death, described by the CPS as “one of the largest in criminal history” was hampered when Nicholson refused to give police his Facebook password.
After applying through the US courts for access to his account, prosecutors only received a log of his Facebook contacts with Lucy, but not the content of any messages. It finally arrived the day that the trial started.
Detective Superintendent Paul Barton of Hampshire Police said: “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.
“There are a lot of signs which would suggest that Nicholson had been planning this, maybe only for just a few days.
“All these things indicate to me that he knew exactly what he was doing, which makes this even more vicious.”
Mr Nicholson was jailed for at least 33 years on Friday.
In sentencing him, judge Mrs Justice May described it as “a pitiless attack on a child following months of sexual exploitation.”
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