LUCY McHugh's mum's boyfriend searched the internet for 'how to get DNA off a dead body' on the day the 13-year-old went missing last year, a murder trial has heard.

Richard Elmes was cross-examined at Winchester Crown Court this morning.

He is not facing any accusation in connection with Lucy's death.

Lucy's body was found in a wooded area of Southampton Sports Centre on July 26 2018.

Stephen Nicholson, 25 and of no fixed abode, is charged with murdering the schoolgirl. He denies the allegation, as well as three further charges of sexual activity with a child.

James Newton-Price QC, representing Nicholson, this morning told the court that Mr Elmes had used his phone to conduct a number of internet searches on the day of Lucy's disappearance on July 25.

The searches included 'how to find a lost Samsung phone' and 'how to get DNA off a dead body', it was claimed.

When asked about the search made in relation to a Samsung, Mr Elmes told the court he had been attempting to help a neighbour find his lost mobile.

He was then questioned about the 'DNA' search. Mr Elmes said he was in an ongoing inheritance battle over his father's estate and had also searched for Eric Robinson solicitors, who he said were dealing with the claim.

The court heard he also burnt a letter, found in Lucy's room on the night of her disappearance.

Mr Elmes said it was "common" in his household to burn important letters as he was worried about fraud.

Mr Elmes has previously told the jury Lucy was a "lovely, bubbly, bright, intelligent girl", adding: "She knew what she wanted and how to get there."

He also admitted to jurors that he'd had arguments with the teenager over her behaviour.

Jurors also heard from bosses at Lucy's former school, who said they had referred rumours of a relationship with an older man to social services more than a year before her death.

School chiefs had alerted the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) after learning Lucy had claimed to have a boyfriend named 'Stephen', it was said.

But the court heard how the alert, raised in 2017, angered Lucy's mother, Stacey White, who later moved the teenager to another school.

The jury was also told how social services decided to take no further action over the rumours, which Lucy had denied. 

Emma Wright, an assistant headteacher at St Anne's Catholic School in Southampton, gave evidence today at the trial. Lucy attended the school between 2016 and 2017, when she was in Year 7.

Miss Wright told the court Lucy's behaviour presented her as "vulnerable".

She also told the jury that school leaders had spoken to Lucy several times about her behaviour during the academic year and had raised particular concern about her mobile phone usage.

Miss Wright alleged she called a meeting with the teenager's mother after learning Lucy had been using picture messaging service Snapchat to contact a man named 'Stephen'.

However, the meeting did not go ahead, she claimed.

Miss Wright also alleged she later spoke to the teenager after hearing rumours that Lucy had a boyfriend named Stephen.

She told the court Lucy had told her that Stephen was not her boyfriend and was a friend of Mr Elmes. Stephen was staying on the family's sofa, it was heard.

Ms Wright told she made a referral to social services, sparking a "very unhappy" reaction from Lucy's mother – who later moved Lucy to Redbridge Community School for Year 8.

Ms Wright added that social services decided to take no further action.

The court has previously been told how Lucy was stabbed 20 times, including three fatal wounds to her neck.

William Mousley QC, prosecuting, previously told the court Nicholson is accused of killing Lucy after she told him she was pregnant.

He said the defendant, who had been living in Lucy mother's home as a lodger, had been "exploiting" the "vulnerable" teenager during a secret year-long sexual relationship.

The trial continues.