A SOUTHAMPTON community leader has called for members of the public to respect the family of Lucy McHugh and described comments on the case as “unhelpful”.

Reverend Jenny Elliott, from Shirley Warren Action Church, has called for calm following the conviction of Lucy’s killer, Stephen Nicholson.

Reverend Elliott, who is a long term friend of Lucy’s biological father, Andy McHugh, said: “I’m calling on people not to leave unhelpful comments on the case. They cause further distress for family members.

“It is now time for the public to put the parents, Stacey and Andy, first, because they need to grieve for their little girl and that’s all she was, a little girl.”

Reverend Elliott’s comments come after Nicholson, 25, of no fixed address, was found guilty of the murder and rape of Lucy.

He was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 33 years. following a trial at Winchester Crown Court.