Court told social services took no further action as schoolgirl concerns raised

The assistant head teacher at a school attended by Lucy McHugh has told a court that social services decided to take no further action after she raised concerns about the “vulnerable” 13-year-old’s relationship with the man accused of her murder.

Emma Wright, the safeguarding lead at St Anne’s Catholic School in Southampton, told Winchester Crown Court that Lucy, a Year Seven pupil, had been taken out of class for using her mobile phone in June 2017.

Ms Wright said: “She told me she was using her phone to Snapchat someone called Stephen about school.”

She said that she arranged for a meeting with Lucy’s mother, Stacey White, who did not turn up.

Ms Wright said on another occasion in June, Lucy had her phone confiscated again.

She said that she had been told by another pupil that Lucy had been using it to message her boyfriend.

Ms Wright said that Lucy told her that in the evening she was at home with her mother’s partner, Richard Elmes, Stephen Nicholson and his brother.

She said that she decided to contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub because: “I thought there were a lot of men with access to her without mum in the house.”

Ms Wright said she spoke to Ms White and said: “Mum didn’t seem surprised, mum told me she tracks all of Lucy’s messages and mum seemed unconcerned.”

She added: “Mum was quite confrontational, was very cross, she was very, very unhappy that we had contacted social services about Stephen.

“Mum had contacted school on a number of occasions about wanting Lucy to move school.”

Ms Wright also said that concerns were raised about Lucy coming to school without lunch, with her spending £5 on sweets instead.

She added that Lucy, who she described as “vulnerable”, had been referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services for possible diagnosis of ADHD.

Ms Wright added: “I spoke to social services the next day and they said mum had been very unhappy with them, they said it was a long conversation with mum.

“Social services said no further action at that time.”

Nicholson, 25, is charged with Lucy’s murder as well as three counts of rape against her when she was 12.

He also faces two charges of sexual activity with a child against Lucy on multiple occasions when she was 13.

He is also charged with sexual activity with a child in relation to another girl aged 14, dated June 29 2012.

The defendant denies the charges and the trial continues.

Jennie Boorman, head of year seven, said a group of “excited” girls reported to her that Lucy had an older boyfriend.

She said Lucy confirmed this, adding: “She was quite happy to have this boyfriend, he was living at her house, he was mummy’s friend, he was sleeping on the sofa, she liked the fact he had snakes and he was doing tattoos in the house, and she would watch him tattoo people for cash.

“I felt I had to escalate it because she was at home alone with Stephen, he would babysit when mummy was at work.”

Mrs Boorman said that when she spoke to Ms White, Lucy’s mother was “quite exasperated” and she denied Nicholson was her daughter’s boyfriend or she was left alone with him.

Nicola Franklin-Allen, a teacher at Redbridge Community School, where Lucy moved to in September 2017, said the issue of Lucy having a relationship with Nicholson was also raised with her.

She said Lucy denied having sex with him and Ms White told her Lucy was not left alone with Nicholson and that she had a habit of making up stories.

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