FAMILY members of murdered schoolgirl Lucy McHugh have pleaded with the community to let them grieve in peace after the teenager’s killer was jailed for life.

Family members say they have been bombarded with abuse and targeted by “vigilante” groups – leading police to station officers outside their Southampton home for their protection.

It also comes as Lucy McHugh’s mother’s partner, Richard Elmes, was attacked outside a convenience store near to their home, leaving him needing hospital treatment.

The incidents have even left the 13-year-old’s mother, Stacey White, worried about leaving the home to visit her daughter’s grave, a family member told the Echo.

The family member, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “This whole situation is scaring me. It’s so dangerous.

“There is a vendetta against Richard and Stacey. Stacey fears for her life. She doesn’t even feel like she can go to the cemetery for fear of being attacked.”

A friend of Mr Elmes, who says he has known him for eight years, said: “I don’t think it is right. He’s got police outside his home. It’s wrecking his life.”

Lucy’s mother, Stacey, confirmed that Mr Elmes had been attacked.

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She said: “All I want is for us to be able to process all we have heard in court and grieve for our little girl, not have to live how these people are making us.”

Hampshire Police has confirmed it is investigating an assault on a 22-year-old man, which took place outside Shayona News in Windrush Road, Millbrook, on Sunday.

A spokesperson for the force said: “We are investigating following an assault of a man in Windrush Road.

“The 22-year-old man was assaulted shortly before 6pm on Sunday and suffered injuries to his head and arm.

“He was taken to Southampton General Hospital and has since been discharged.”

Police confirmed two men had been arrested.

The spokesperson added: “A 22-year-old man and a 27-year-old man, both from Southampton, have been arrested on suspicion of causing GBH.

“They remain in custody.”

Last week, Lucy’s killer, Stephen Nicholson, was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 33 years, after being found guilty of murdering the teenager – whose body was found in a wooded area of Southampton Sports Centre in July last year.

The 25-year-old, of no fixed address, was also found guilty of three counts of rape against Lucy when she was 12 and a count of sexual with activity against another girl, who was 14 at the time.

Hampshire Police offered this warning about all 'vigilante' incidents.

A spokesperson for the force said: "While we understand that some people feel that justice has not been served through the criminal justice process and that more needs to be done, we cannot condone any form of vigilante-style reaction in relation to any police investigation, past or present.

"We want people to be aware of the risks of taking part in this type of action because you could find yourself facing criminal charges.

"We would urge anyone that has any concerns or information regarding criminal activity in their local area to contact police in the first instance."