Murder of Tia Sharp

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Murder of Tia Sharp
Date 2 August 2012 (2012-08-02)
Location New Addington, London, England
Coordinates 51°21′24″N 0°01′02″W / 51.356573°N 0.017293°W / 51.356573; -0.017293Coordinates: 51°21′24″N 0°01′02″W / 51.356573°N 0.017293°W / 51.356573; -0.017293
Deaths Tia Sharp
Burial 14 September 2012
Suspect(s) Stuart Hazell
Paul Meehan
Charges Murder (Hazell)
Wasting police time (Meehan)
Convictions Murder (Hazell guilty plea; sentenced to 38 years)
Wasting police time (Meehan conviction; five months imprisonment)
Website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-22513711

The murder of Tia Sharp was a high-profile English case in which a 12-year-old girl, Tia Sharp (30 June 2000 – 2 August 2012),[1] was reported missing from the home of her grandmother, Christine Sharp, in New Addington, London, in August 2012.[2]

When police discovered her body in the loft of the house seven days later,[3] they arrested Christine Sharp and her partner, Stuart Hazell[4][5] on suspicion of murder. Hazell is a former boyfriend of Tia's mother.[6] Hazell was charged with Tia's murder on 12 August.[7]

Five days into his trial at the Old Bailey in May 2013, Hazell changed his plea from not guilty to guilty. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with the judge setting a minimum term of 38 years.[citation needed]

Disappearance[edit]

Hazell told police that Tia had left the house on 3 August 2012 to travel to Croydon, five miles away, to buy shoes in the Whitgift Centre.[8] On 7 August, Tia's uncle, David Sharp, made a televised plea for her safe return.[9] Fifty-five sightings were reported by members of the public, but none were substantiated.[10] Eighty police officers were assigned to the search, and 800 hours of CCTV footage were collected.[11]

Investigation[edit]

On 10 August, a body was discovered in a black bed sheet in a black bag in the loft of Tia's grandmother's home, after police searched it for the fourth time.[4][12] Police launched a search for Hazell, and later that day arrested him at Cannon Hill Common, Morden, on suspicion of murder, after a tip-off from a member of the public.[13][14] It was later announced that two further arrests had been made: Christine Sharp, on suspicion of murder, and her neighbour, Paul Meehan, on suspicion of assisting an offender.[15] Meehan and Sharp were subsequently bailed.[15] Commander Neil Basu, the officer in charge of the investigation, apologised to Tia's mother for the delay in finding her daughter's body. He blamed human error and said that a review would be undertaken "to ensure such a failing is not repeated".[16]

Late in the evening of 11 August, Hazell was charged with the murder of Tia Sharp. He appeared before Camberwell Green magistrates' court on 13 August via video-link. No plea was entered and the case was committed to the Old Bailey for trial, with a first appearance on 15 August, also via video-link, and a preliminary hearing set for 19 November.[12][15] He was remanded in custody to Belmarsh prison where he was kept in isolation for his own safety.[17]

A post-mortem on the body was begun on 10 August, and paused later that day. By 16 August, the post-mortem had still not been completed, but at an inquest into the death, which opened that day, it was confirmed that the body was that of Tia Sharp. The post-mortem later concluded without establishing the cause of death.[18][19] Experts told This is Croydon Today that the delay in finding the body will have made it much harder to establish the cause of death, and that without a cause of death the prosecution will find it much harder to build a case.[20] However, detectives suspected and it was widely reported that Tia Sharp was smothered, although this was not officially proven to be the cause of death.[21]

On 23 August police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe addressed his force's failure to find Tia's body. He said the error could not be attributed to a single officer. He wanted "to understand what processes and management decisions we've made that led to that failure."[22]

Tia Sharp was cremated on 14 September, after a private family funeral.[23][24]

Court proceedings[edit]

It was announced on 26 November that Hazell would face trial in May 2013.[25]

On 7 December, the Metropolitan Police announced that Christine Sharp would not face charges.[26][27][28]

On 5 February 2013, Paul Meehan was charged with wasting police time. He appeared at Croydon magistrates' court on 28 February 2013, where he denied the charge against him and was released on bail for a one-day trial on 29 July.[29]

Hazell pleaded not guilty when he appeared in court on 8 March 2013.[30]

The trial of Stuart Hazell began on 7 May 2013 before Mr Justice Nicol. On 13 May, Hazell changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment on 14 May with a tariff of 38 years, meaning he will be 75 years old before he is eligible for parole.[31][32]

On 5 August 2013, Meehan was found guilty of wasting police time and sentenced to five months in prison.[citation needed]

Aftermath[edit]

In June 2013, Steven Carter announced that he was going to be a father again as his girlfriend was pregnant.[33]

In July 2013, Tia's biological father Steven Carter said he backed a plan for websites to be told to block certain search terms and warn people when they try to view illegal content.[34] In November 2013, partly in response to the murders of Sharp and April Jones, the search engines Google and Bing modified their systems to block results from searches aimed at producing child abuse images.[35]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tia Sharp murder house demolished. News.uk.msn.com (30 June 2013); retrieved 24 November 2013.
  2. ^ "Tia Sharp: Police concern over missing girl". Bbc.co.uk. 4 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "Tia Sharp search: Body found in grandmother's house". Bbc.co.uk. 10 August 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Tia Sharp: Grandmother Christine arrested over murder". BBC.co.uk. 11 August 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "Tia Sharp police arrest Stuart Hazell on suspicion of murder". Bbc.co.uk. 10 August 2012. 
  6. ^ Evans, Martin (10 August 2012). "Tia Sharp: Now mum Natalie has disappeared". The Daily Telegraph (London, UK). Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  7. ^ "Tia Sharp police charge Stuart Hazell with her murder". Bbc.co.uk. 12 August 2012. 
  8. ^ "Stepfather's Agony Over Missing Tia Sharp". BSkyB. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "Missing Tia Sharp's uncle appeals for her safe return–video". The Guardian (London, UK). 7 August 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  10. ^ James Meikle and agencies (7 August 2012). "Tia Sharp stepfather says family 'in bits' over missing London 12-year-old". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  11. ^ "Tia Sharp: Eighty officers in search for Croydon girl". BBC. 8 August 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  12. ^ a b Davies, Caroline (13 August 2012). "Tia Sharp:Stuart Hazell sent for trial". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  13. ^ "Tia Sharp search: Body found in grandmother's house". BBC News. 10 August 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  14. ^ Barrett, David; Leach, Ben (11 August 2012). "Tia Sharp: police face questions after body discovered in grandmother's house". The Daily Telegraph (London, UK). Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  15. ^ a b c "Tia Sharp: timeline of her disappearance". The Daily Telegraph (London, UK). 12 August 2012. 
  16. ^ "Tia Sharp: Met Police admit body search error". Metro.co.uk. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  17. ^ "Tia Sharp: step-grandfather in isolation amid fears of attacks from inmates at Belmarsh Prison". The Daily Telegraph (London, UK). 15 August 2012. 
  18. ^ "Tia Sharp: Grandmother of murdered schoolgirl told to keep away from the funeral". Mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  19. ^ "Tia Sharp's body identified as inquest opens". The Guardian (London). 16 August 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  20. ^ "Tia Sharp: Bungled police search 'may make it harder to prove schoolgirl was murdered'". Thisiscroydontoday.co.uk. Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  21. ^ "Tia Sharp death: Police consider smothering theory". BBC News. 13 August 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  22. ^ "Tia Sharp: Search failings 'not down to any one officer'". BBC. 22 August 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  23. ^ "Tia Sharp: Private family funeral for schoolgirl held". BBC. 14 September 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  24. ^ "Little Tia is laid to rest at last". Thisiscroydontoday.co.uk. 21 September 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  25. ^ "Tia Sharp: Stuart Hazell To Face Trial In May". Uk.news.yahoo.com. 26 November 2012. 
  26. ^ "Tia Sharp's Grandmother Won't Face Charges". BSkyB. Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  27. ^ "Tia Sharp's Grandmother Won't Face Charges". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  28. ^ "Tia Sharp death: No action against grandmother Christine Sharp". BBC. 7 December 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  29. ^ "Tia Sharp: Neighbour Charged Over Murder Hunt". BSkyB. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  30. ^ "Tia Sharp death: Stuart Hazell denies murder". BBC. 8 March 2013. Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  31. ^ "Tia Sharp murder trial: Stuart Hazell jailed for 38 years". BBC News. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  32. ^ "Tia Sharp murder trial: Stuart Hazell pleads guilty". BBC News. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  33. ^ "Tia Sharp's grieving dad Steven Carter set to become father again". Mirror News. 18 June 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  34. ^ "Tia Sharp's Father Backs Child Abuse Image Ban". Sky News. 21 July 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  35. ^ "BBC News – April Jones's grandmother welcomes move to block abuse images". bbc.co.uk. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 

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