Stephen Nicholson, 24, has been charged with the murder of 13-year-old schoolgirl Lucy McHugh, Hampshire Police have said.
Care worker and tattoo artist Nicholson was arrested by officers after Lucy’s bloodied body was discovered in woodland in Southampton in July.
This evening Nicholson has been charged with with murder, rape of a child under 13 and two counts of sexual activity with a child under 16.
Care worker and tattoo artist Stephen-Alan Nicholson (right) was arrested by officers after 13-year-old Lucy McHugh’s body was discovered in woodland in Southampton in July
Family friend Nicholson, who told police he exchanged messages with Lucy on Facebook before she went missing, was later bailed.
Detectives have been scouring woodland surrounding Southampton Sports Centre, Hampshire, since the teenager’s body was found there on July 26.
She disappeared from her home, a mile and a half away from where her body was found, just before 9am the day before, and police believe she may have been lured to the spot deliberately because there is no CCTV.
The teenager, who left her home in Mansel Road East, Southampton, Hampshire, on July 24, was captured on CCTV walking ‘with purpose’ past a Tesco Express according to police, who believe she was on her way to the Sports Centre.
CCTV from earlier in the investigation captured Lucy walking past a Tesco Express store a day before she was found dead
The 13-year-old’s body was discovered in woodland overlooking a cricket pitch and athletics track by a dog walker at 7.45am the next morning.
Mourners left flowers on a fallen tree on the track leading up to the spot where she was found.
Hampshire police spokesman Phil Rogers, said: ‘Detectives investigating the murder of teenager Lucy McHugh have charged a man.
‘Stephen-Alan Paul Nicholson, aged 24, of no fixed abode, has been charged with murder, rape of a child under 13 and two counts of sexual activity with a child under 16.’
One count of sexual activity with a child relates to an offence in 2012 against a 14-year-old girl.
Nicholson will appear before Southampton Magistrates on Thursday 15 November.
Hampshire Police said a man had been charged with the murder of 13-year-old Lucy McHugh.
The force said: ‘Detectives investigating the murder of teenager Lucy McHugh have charged a man.
‘Stephen-Alan Paul Nicholson, aged 24, of no fixed abode, has been charged with murder, rape of a child under 13 and two counts of sexual activity with a child under 16.
‘Lucy’s body was found in woodland at Southampton Sports Centre on 26 July. Mr Nicholson is due to appear before Southampton magistrates on Thursday 15 November.’
Once count of sexual activity relates to an alleged offence in 2012 against a 14-year-old girl.
Timeline of the Lucy McHugh murder investigation so far…
July 24 – Lucy told ex-neighbour she had ‘older boyfriend’
July 26 – Schoolgirl’s body was found in a wooded area of Southampton Sports Centre at 7.45am
July 29 – Police reveal Lucy was stabbed to death in woodland – possibly with scissors – as her heartbroken mother pays tribute to ‘my precious baby girl’
July 31 – Stephen Nicholson, 24, is arrested on suspicion of the murder and sexual assault of Lucy. He is bailed and ordered not to visit Southampton
August 9 – £10,000 reward offered for murder probe information
August 16 – Detectives hunting Lucy’s killer release new CCTV of 13-year-old walking ‘purposefully’ past a Tesco Express hours before she was stabbed to death in secluded woodland
August 17 – Lucy’s mother bans her father from her funeral after a family rift and says the schoolgirl ‘wanted nothing to do with him’
August 21 – Teenager’s dad says he will not attend her funeral
August 27 – Family and friends of Lucy honour their ‘hurricane of smiles and lip gloss’ at her funeral
Met police chief Cressida Dick says Facebook should make evidence available to detectives ‘in minutes’
September 7 – A number of students at the school attended by Lucy go to police with information, according to their head teacher
September 14 – Police have now waited 18 months for evidence from social media firms
September 18 – Officers empty drains as they continue search in murder probe
September 21 – Facebook chief admits company is slow in getting information to police
September 25 – Plans for ‘I Love Lucy Day’ tribute revealed
October 12 – Police announce fresh search of play park
November 14 – Police charge Nicholson with murder, rape of a child under 13 and two counts of sexual activity with a child under 16
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