A MAN has denied ‘effectively executing’ a Southampton schoolgirl because he wanted to 'silence her before she outed him ’.

Stephen Nicholson also repeatedly denied having a sexual relationship with 13-year-old Lucy McHugh, who was found stabbed to death in woodland at Southampton Sports Centre on July 26 last year, after sexually explicit extracts from her diary were read in court.

The 25-year-old, of no fixed address, denies murdering Lucy, as well as three counts of rape against her when she was aged 12, a count of sexual activity with a child against Lucy on multiple occasions when she was aged 13, and sexual activity with a child in relation to the 14-year-old girl in 2012.

On Wednesday, the jury was ordered to return a not guilty verdict on a further charge of sexual activity with a child in relation to Lucy.

Yesterday, prosecutor William Mousley QC read out a message from Lucy in which she threatened to tell her mum and step-dad that Nicholson had gotten her pregnant.

Mr Mousley asked if he was concerned by that, but Nicholson said he “knew it was lies” and responded to Lucy something “along the lines of yeah whatever”.

The trial has previously heard Lucy was not pregnant when she died.

Among the diary extracts read to the court was one dated May 30, 2017, in which she described an intimate piercing Nicholson had and how he had taken her virginity the day before.

Nicholson said she might have overheard him talking about the piercing and previous sexual encounters or seen details on his Facebook page. He added: “I have never had a sexual relationship with Lucy.”

He also said he had never received letters or notes from Lucy after some of those were read to members of the jury.

Mr Mousley asked: “You wanted Lucy silenced didn’t you?

“This was effectively an execution by you, wasn’t it?”

Nicholson replied: “Why would I want to silence a little kid.

“I played no part in her death.”

During the exchanges, Nicholson said he took the SIM card out of his Samsung phone because he was worried about drugs information on it.

Mr Mousley asked him whether that was more important to him than the police investigation into Lucy’s death, to which he responded that it was more to look after his family.

The trial continues.