Police have formally identified the body of Tia Sharp as a post mortem continued.
Stuart Hazell appeared in the Old Bailey on Wednesday 15 charged with murder. He appeared by via video link for security reasons. His Counsel didn’t file a bail application during the brief hearing. He was remanded in custody until 19 November and a provisional trial date was set for January.
Hazell, 37, who is Tia’s grandmother’s partner, was arrested on Friday August 10, hours after police found the body of Tia at her grandmothers in The Lindens, New Addington. He appeared before a magistrates Court on Monday and was remanded and the case referred to the Old Bailey.
Tia’s body was eventually found on Friday at her grandmother Christine Sharp’s home in New Addington, Croydon – eight days after she was reported missing and after police had searched the home on several occasions.
The body found at the address has not yet been formally identified. The murder charge against Hazell does, however, name Tia Sharp as the victim. A post mortem began over the weekend but was paused on Sunday, it will resume tomorrow.
Tia’s grandmother, Christine Sharp, 47, and her neighbour, Paul Meehan, 39, were also arrested on Friday. Both were released on bail over the weekend and no charges have been laid against them.
Police have faced criticism for the delay in discovering the body and apologised to the family. The house was the last place Tia was seen and police searched the property four times before finding the body during a forensic search on Friday, a week after she went missing.
On Tuesday 14 police announced that a full review of the handling of the case will be undertaken after an initial review indicated ‘human error’ was to blame for the failure to find the body sooner. In a statement earlier in the week Commander Neil Basu said: “It is now clear that human error delayed the discovery of the body within the house. We have apologised to Tia’s mother that our procedures did not lead to the discovery of the body on this search.”
He added: ”Four scene examinations were conducted of the property. The first followed immediately from the missing person report that was received on Friday 3 August. An initial visit was made to assess the situation and examine the property. This visit was not regarded or viewed as a full search of the property. The second visit was a full search of the property with the consent of the occupiers. This was conducted on 5 August over a period of two hours.”
“All parts of the premises were searched including the location where a body was discovered, five days later, on Friday 10 August. An early review has been conducted and it is now clear that human error delayed the discovery of the body within the house.”
The house where Tia’s body was found remains cordoned off. The whole block of houses protected with tarpaulin and police tape and guarded by police as they continue their investigation into what happened to Tia.
Hundred of flowers, bears and candles form a memorial to the girl. The tributes cover the pavement, several metres deep and the length of a garage. A steady stream of mourners continues to visit to pay their respects to the young girl.
None of Tia’s family attended the Court hearing on Monday but her mother, Natalie Sharp, 30, visited the memorial set up in The Lindens in New Addington over the weekend. Visiting the growing pile of flowers with her partner David Niles, 29, she was visibly upset as she laid flowers and a card in memory of her daughter. The card read: “Sorry baby that this has happened, I wish I was there to protect you. We know you are safe now and you are at home with us everywhere we go. Love you, mum, dad, Jack and Harry. XXX”
Tia lived with her mother and step-father in Mitcham, Surrey, but often stayed at her grandmother’s house in New Addington.
Neighbourhood wardens have become a visible presence on the estate as those who live in the area as life is begins to get back to normal on the New Addington; buses are now running to the stop at the end of the road and the street, once packed with media, is now able to be driven down.
But life isn’t normal, for neighbours, emotions are raw and life has changed. Dale Robertson, 37, of The Lindens, said: “We’re saddened, angry, frustrated; all those kind of emotions are circling around at the moment.”
“Normally there’s 30 or 40 children out on this street just playing, but there’s no one. My daughter is ten, I won’t let her out of our sight. She’s not allowed out to the shops on her own, which she would normally do.”
A large search took place across south London during the week, with residents and neighbours distributing posters and fliers and helping police to scour woodlands near to where Tia was last reported to have been seen.
Tia Sharp: Timeline
August 2: Tia visits the Co-op store in New Addington, Croydon around 4.15pm and is captured on CCTV.
August 3: Tia was said to have slept late and left her Grandmother’s house in The Lindens, New Addington around midday. The family raise the alarm around 6pm.
August 4: Police focus their efforts on CCTV as the search for Tia gets under way in earnest. Family and friends take to social media to raise the profile of their search.
August 5: Celebrities begin to join the campaign to search for Tia. Local residents and friends set up Facebook groups, print posters and fliers and take to the streets to look for signs of the missing girl. Tia’s family make a public plea for information as no confirmed sightings of her on CCTV footage after her disappearance are forthcoming.
August 6: Police release CCTV footage of Tia taken on August 2 and encourage the public to come forward with sightings of Tia.
August 7: The Sun newspaper offers a reward for information that leads to Tia being found. The police search continues, with officers scouring local woodland area, Birch Wood.
August 8: After speaking with the family for around an hour police return with a dog and search the home where Tia was last seen before she went missing.
August 9: Police search bins around Christine Sharp’s home as their search continues. A witness comes forward and says he saw Tia leaving Christine Sharp’s home around midday.
August 10: Police search Sharp’s home again and leave with evidence in bags, returning with a sniffer dog. Christine Sharp leaves with police to give further evidence and police undertake a full forensic search of the property, leading to the discovery of a body.
August 11: Police continue their search of the property at The Lindens and the surrounding area. Locals set up a tribute to Tia near her grandmother’s home as they mourn the girl. A post mortem begins. Police site ‘human error’ as the reason for the delay in finding Tia’s body despite multiple searches and they apologise to her mother.
August 12: Stuart Hazell is charged with Tia’s murder, Christine Sharp and her neighbour are bailed.
August 13: Stuart Hazell appears in Camberwell Green Magistrates Court charged with Murder. He is remanded and the case referred to the Old Bailey.
August 14: Merton Council open a serious case review into the death of Tia Sharp and police promise a full review of the investigation into Tia’s murder.
August 15: Stuart Hazell appears at the old Bailey and is remanded in custody until 21 November.
August 16: Police formally identify the body of Tia Sharp.