The killer of schoolgirl Tia Sharp will be sentenced for her murder today after suddenly changing his plea mid-trial.
Stuart Hazell (aged 37) drew gasps in Court 2 of the Old Bailey yesterday when he dramatically admitted murdering the 12-year-old on the fifth day of his trial.
His previous denials meant Tia’s family were forced to sit through days of disturbing and graphic evidence, including looking at a picture of her naked and put into a sexual pose after she died.
Her mother Natalie Sharp left the court in tears a number of times as the case progressed.
Yesterday as the prosecution was drawing to a close, Hazell abruptly changed his mind and entered a guilty plea to the murder charge.
His decision means Tia’s family will never get to hear his explanation of what happened to the schoolgirl, and Ms Sharp said in an impact statement that she wishes he would answer her questions.
Hazell, who had briefly dated Ms Sharp, had been in a relationship with her mother – Tia’s grandmother Christine Bicknell – for five and a half years when Tia died.
He moved into Ms Bicknell’s house in New Addington, south London, a week after the pair got together, but it was not until last year that he developed a twisted sexual attraction to Tia and assaulted her before killing her.
Ms Sharp’s statement said: “I gave the ultimate trust to Stuart. I have so much I want to ask him.
“Sometimes I feel pity, but I want to hurt him, but I could never manage to hurt him like he hurt me. I want to meet him and I want him to answer my questions.”
Prosecutors said Tia died on the night of August 2/3, when she and Hazell were left alone while Ms Bicknell worked a night shift.
It was their case that Hazell violently sexually assaulted Tia and killed her, before hiding her body in the loft of the home he and Ms Bicknell shared.
Tia’s blood was found on a sex toy at the house and on Hazell’s belt, and his semen was on the bed clothes in the room where she slept.
He had secretly filmed her while she was asleep and sitting on the sofa putting cream on her legs, and had searched for violent child porn on the internet using terms including “violent forced rape”, “little girls in glasses” and “incest”.
Speaking outside court yesterday, Tia’s father Steven Carter said Hazell’s admission was not “justice” for his daughter, and that he should “serve his time and then be hung”.
Tia’s body was found wrapped in a sheet and layers of plastic in the loft of the New Addington house a week after she went missing in August last year.
Scotland Yard came under fire for failing to find her body sooner – two officers had separately searched the loft but discovered nothing.
The force apologised to Tia’s family for not locating her body more quickly, and yesterday Commander Neil Basu said the two officers were “devastated” by their failure.
Mr Justice Nicol is expected to sentence Hazell this morning.