- Tower Hamlets
Police are interviewing the boyfriend of Tia Sharp’s grandmother as a witness in the investigation into the schoolgirl’s disappearance.
Officers arrived at the home of Christine Sharp at The Lindens estate in New Addington in Croydon at 5.30pm today and Stuart Hazell, 37, left with them a few minutes later
However, Scotland Yard said that Hazell “had not been arrested” and made it clear that he was being interviewed “as a witness.”
Hazell is reported to be the last person to see Tia before she went missing, although there are conflicting accounts as to whether this was at her grandmother’s home or at East Croydon Tram Station.
Police have received over 60 reported sightings of Tia, although none of them could be confirmed. However, they did confirm that one witness had given a statement saying that Tia had left her grandmother’s house at midday on Friday August 3.
Detective Chief Inspector Nick Scola from the Metropolitan Police said: “We know Tia was at her grandmother’s house and slept late on the morning of Friday August 3. She then left to get the bus. She told her grandmother’s partner she was going out. He was the last person to see her, that we are aware of at this time.”
Tia normally lives with her mother, Natalie Sharp, and step-father, David Niles, in Mitcham, but often stays with her grandmother in New Addington.
Police had been searching the grandmother’s house earlier today. A police search dog and two handlers went into the grandmother’s home for around half an hour this afternoon whilst Scola updated the family on the latest developments about the investigation. Police also searched nearby woodland again earlier this morning. Around 60 police officers had searched the area of Birch Wood yesterday, about one mile from where Tia went missing.
A number of police officers have been brought in to aid the investigation, including officers originally posted to cover the Olympics. Police have focused on reviewing CCTV footage as they try to confirm where Tia went missing. They have so far searched about 120 hours of footage, roughly a sixth of the total CCTV footage that they have obtained.
Public support for the search has continued. Around 100 people gathered at Croydon Rugby Club last night to meet with police and help with the search for the girl and some are expected to continue looking today. A large Facebook group has been arranging for posters and fliers to be printed and distributed across south London.
The MP for Croydon Central, Gavin Barwell, also urged locals to join in the search. “I’m the father of young children myself so I want to help. I’d urge anyone with information to get in touch with the police,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tia’s stepfather David Niles, 29, said that the family were “in bits”. Although not Tia’s biological father, he said that he had “been there since day dot”.
“Just find my little girl,” he urged.