JURORS in the trial of a man accused of murdering Southampton schoolgirl Lucy McHugh have been told they can return a majority verdict.

The Honourable Mrs Justice May DBE made the direction today to the jury in the trial of Stephen Nicholson at Winchester Crown Court.

It means that jurors will be able to return verdicts on which at least 10 of the 12 jury members agree.

Nicholson, 25, of no fixed address, denies the murder of Lucy McHugh, whose body was found in a wooded area of Southampton Sports Centre on July 26 last year.

Nicholson also denies three allegations of rape against Lucy when she was 12, one allegation of sexual activity with a child when she was 13, and a charge of sexual activity with another girl, when she was 14.