A TATTOO artist who murdered Southampton schoolgirl Lucy McHugh has been jailed for life.

Stephen Nicholson, 25, will serve a minimum sentence of 33 years.

He showed no emotion as the sentence was handed down by the Honourable Mrs Justice May DBE today at Winchester Crown Court.

It follows a month-long trial, after which Nicholson was found guilty of murdering Lucy, whose body was found at Southampton Sports Centre in July last year.

He was found guilty by a jury of Lucy's murder, as well as three counts of rape against Lucy and one count of sexual activity with another child, who was 14 at the time.

The verdict comes after Lucy's body was found at Southampton Sports Centre on July 26 last year.

A post mortem examination revealed the 13-year-old had suffered multiple stab wounds, including three fatal wounds to her neck.

Nicholson, who denied all of the charges against him, is due to be sentenced tomorrow morning.

The verdicts come after a month-long trial at Winchester Crown Court.

Prosecutor William Mousley QC previously told the jury that Nicholson killed 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.

Mr Mousley told the jury that Nicholson had “a desire to silence Lucy" after exchanging messages with the teenager the night before she disappeared - on July 25.

Her body was discovered the following day.

Home office pathologist Basil Purdue said Lucy had sustained multiple stab wounds, most likely from a kitchen knife.