A care worker has denied raping and killing a schoolgirl after she “blackmailed” him by threatening to tell her mother he had got her pregnant.

Stephen Nicholson, 25, is accused of repeatedly stabbing 13-year-old Lucy McHugh to the neck and upper body at Southampton Sports Centre before leaving her to die on 25 July last year.

A trial at Winchester Crown Court has heard the defendant was a lodger at the home of Lucy, her mother Stacey White and stepfather Richard Elmes, who was his best friend.

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William Mousley QC, prosecuting, asked Mr Nicholson if he acted appropriately with Lucy, who the defendant has described as acting in a “stalkerish” manner towards him by following him around.

He said: “I believe telling her to f*** off and pushing her away from me was too much.”

Mr Mousley said to him: “Her wanting to be close to you, wanting to be next to you, wanting to be with you, that was the behaviour of a girl who had been having a sexual relationship with you?”

The defendant, who agreed Lucy was “vulnerable”, replied: “There was no sexual relationship.”

Mr Mousley read diary entries written by Lucy dating back to May 2017 in which she said the defendant took her virginity and described the penis piercing he has admitted having.

The note said Mr Nicholson tried to kiss her and asked her if she was a virgin.

She wrote: “I said yes, I kept thinking why wouldn’t I be, I am not a f****** whore.”

Lucy then wrote: “I am not a virgin since 29/30 May. I also smoked and had alcohol.”

Mr Mousley read a letter from Lucy found the day after she died, which said: “To Stephen, I have missed my period for almost two months. To be honest I think I am pregnant.”

The prosecutor asked him if he was concerned when Lucy “blackmailed” him the day before she was killed by asking for money and threatening to tell her mother she was pregnant.

He replied he was “not interested” and added: “I have never slept with anyone underage so I know I am not a paedophile.”

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The defendant has admitted he “soft-choked” women, which involved squeezing their neck during sex.

Another note by Lucy stated: “He grabbed my neck tightly and it sort of hurt this time and I told him and he said good.”

Mr Mousley asked him: “Does that sound like a description of the sort of thing you have done with other females?”

The defendant replied: “That sounds like an assault.”

He added: “I have never had a sexual relationship with Lucy.”

Mr Nicholson is charged with Lucy’s murder as well as three counts of rape against her when she was aged 12.

He also faces a charge of sexual activity with a child against Lucy on multiple occasions when she was aged 13.

Nicholson is also charged with sexual activity with a child in relation to a 14-year-old girl in 2012.

The defendant denies the charges and the trial continues.

Press Association contributed to this report.