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Suspect ‘burned clothes in back garden’ on day Lucy’s body was found

Schoolgirl Lucy McHugh was found stabbed to death in a wooded area near Southampton Sports Centre.

A man suspected of murdering schoolgirl Lucy McHugh burned clothes in the back garden of his family home on the day she was found stabbed to death, according to a local resident.

The body of Lucy McHugh was discovered in a wooded area near Southampton Sports Centre on Thursday.

The 13-year-old was last seen at her home in Mansel Road East on Wednesday morning and was reported missing, before being found by a member of the public the following morning.

Police are currently searching the family home of a 24-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder and sexual activity with a child, who has been named locally as Stephen Nicholson.

A local resident said he was arrested at the house, also in Mansel Road East, on Thursday.

The resident said: “The police came straight round there to arrest him. He had burned clothes in the back garden.”

The resident, who asked not to be named, added: “He had been living in Lucy’s house. He’d told them he had been kicked out by his mum.

“Her mum had got him a job as a carer and he also did tattooing in a room he has set up in their house.”

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A police officer at the scene where Lucy McHugh was found stabbed to death (Ben Mitchell/PA)

Lucy’s mother, Stacey White, has called for calm following the arrest and said violent threats would “not bring my angel back”.

In a social media post, she said: “Please can I ask that people are not passing blame on to family members of the person that has been arrested in connection with my precious daughter Lucy White’s murder.

“Making threats of violence to them will not bring my angel back.”

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Floral tributes at the scene near Southampton Sports Centre (Ben Mitchell/PA)

Officers have appealed for anyone who found a “sharp implement” in the area near Southampton Sports Centre to get in touch.

A Hampshire Police spokesman said: “We cannot say at this stage whether this is a knife, scissors or other bladed implement.

“Even if someone has put an item in a bin, we will try and recover it.”

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A message on flowers left close to the scene near Southampton Sports Centre, where Lucy McHugh’s body was found (Ben Mitchell/PA)

Detective Superintendent Paul Barton reiterated the force’s appeal for anyone with any information about Lucy’s last movements to contact them.

He said: “We know how shocked the community is and understand that emotions are running high.

“However we ask people not to speculate on social media – it is unhelpful to the investigation and to Lucy’s family.

“Please allow us to do our job and find out what happened to Lucy.”

The teenager was last seen wearing a distinctive black jacket with white sleeves, with the logo for the band Falling In Reverse on the front and RADKE 01 in red on the back. She also wore camouflage leggings, a white vest top and black and white trainers.

A GoFundMe page set up to raise £5,000 towards costs for Lucy’s funeral has so far received more than £6,000.

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