In Depth

Lucy McHugh murder trial: what we have heard so far

Court hears that 13-year-old girl was stabbed 27 times during attack last July

Schoolgirl Lucy McHugh died as a result of “catastrophic bleeding” after she was stabbed and slashed 27 times with a knife, a court has heard.

Stephen Nicholson, 25 and of no fixed address, is accused of murdering the 13-year-old, who suffered stab wounds to her upper body during the attack at a Southampton sports centre in July last year.

Winchester Crown Court heard this week that a single-bladed knife at least 7cm long was used to kill Lucy while she was “immobile”. The BBC reports that three of the wounds the teenager suffered would have been “rapidly fatal”.

Pathologist Dr Basil Purdue told the court, reports Metro that the cause of death was “catastrophic bleeding from a series of 11 injuries to the right side of the neck that punctured her right carotid artery in three places”, adding: “This would have been rapidly followed by further sharp injuries to the face, neck, chest and lower forearms.”

Nicholson is charged with Lucy’s murder as well as three counts of rape against her when she was aged 12. He also faces two charges of sexual activity with a child. “The prosecution told the court the defendant had repeatedly abused Lucy over the course of a year-long ‘secret sexual relationship’,” reports the BBC.

Nicholson denies all the charges.

Lucy’s mother's partner, Richard Elmes, told the court she was a “lovely, bubbly, bright, intelligent” girl who took medication for autism.

Elmes also said he had found a fragmented note in Lucy’s handwriting, in her jeans which had just been washed. The jury heard that the notes included “abuse”, “so scared locked myself in the bathroom” and “walked away from sex with him, forced me back in”.

Elmes revealed to the jury that shortly after the murder, Nicholson had “weirded” him out when he tried to console him over the phone, appearing to know details of the stabbing scene before they were made public, reports The Guardian.

He said the suspect called him twice at around 11am on 26 July last year, the morning Lucy’s body was found, despite police not confirming the location until later that afternoon.

“One thing that weirded me out when he called me, he mentioned on the phone that Lucy’s body was discovered opposite where I had had a bike accident,” Elmes said, according to The Times. “The location had not been published at that time. I only knew she had been found near the ski slope at the sports centre.”

The trial continues.

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