Stuart Hazell, 37, who had initially denied the murder of schoolgirl Tia Sharp from New Addington, has changed his plea to guilty in a dramatic development in his Old Bailey trial earlier today.
This follows a week of evidence and statements presented to the courtroom by the prosecution.
Tia Sharp’s body was found in the loft of the house of her grandmother, who was Hazell’s former partner, at the Lindens in New Addington, South Croydon in August last year. Police searching for her had missed the body wrapped in bags on two occasions.
Hazell’s QC, Lord Carlile said his client wanted to make it known that “Tia’s family have suffered enough and he did not want to put them through any further stages of this trial or this process.”
The jury have been asked to formally find Hazell guilty and the sentencing process by the trial judge, Mr Justice Nicol, will begin this afternoon.
The prosecution alleged that Hazell, a window cleaner, had sexually assaulted the 12 year old schoolgirl before killing her, although he had maintained her death had been an accident. Tia’s grandmother, Christine Bicknell, had told investigating detectives that Tia had looked up to Hazell and the jury were shown CCTV footage of them shopping and travelling by train and bus together on the day of her death.
When convicted criminals are sentenced at the Central Criminal Court the trial judge invites the submission of “impact statements” from the relatives of murder victims or the direct victims of crime. Tia’s father Steven Carter said in his statement that he and other family members are suffering from post traumatic stress:
“My daughter Tia’s life has been taken from us all, as we will never get the opportunity to share her 13th, 16th, 18th or 21st birthdays. We will never have the chance to see Tia walk down the aisle and get married, and have children of her own. We have all lost someone special.”
“The love for Tia will always be with us, our memories of Tia smiling and playing will never be forgotten. My last memory of Tia is her jumping into my arms, giving me a kiss and her telling me she loved me. I will never get this opportunity again, but it is one of the many memories I will cherish for the rest of my life,” he added.
In her impact statement, Tia’s mother Natalie Sharp said: “I gave the ultimate trust to Stuart, there is so much I want to ask him. Sometimes I want to pity him, sometimes I want to hurt him. But I can’t hurt him like he hurt me.”
Natalie added: “I breathe for my children. I fear anyone hurting my boys. I fear that if anyone touches my sons or does anything to them, what I might do, I am so scared and angry. I have been so badly hurt by people I don’t know and who know nothing of me.”