Inquest opened into death of Tia Sharp

 

A coroner opened an inquest into the death of schoolgirl Tia Sharp today where it was confirmed her body has now been formally identified.

No further details, including the cause of the 12-year-old's death, were given during the five-minute hearing.

Tia's body was discovered at her grandmother Christine Sharp's home in New Addington, south London, last Friday, more than a week after she was reported missing.

Detective Sergeant Eric Sword, of the Metropolitan Police's specialist crime operations unit based at Sutton, told the inquest that a post-mortem examination is still being carried out by a pathologist and is due to resume later today.

Asked by Coroner Roy Palmer if the body has now been formally identified, Mr Sword said: "From the checks that we have been able to carry out, yes."

"And that body is that of Tia Sharp?" the coroner asked.

"That is correct," he replied.

Dr Palmer said that once the post-mortem examination is completed, Stuart Hazell, who has been charged with Tia's murder, has the right to request a second one by a pathologist of his choice.

The coroner asked that this be carried out as soon as possible, if it is necessary, so that Tia's body can be released to her family.

The inquest, at South London Coroner's Court in Croydon, was adjourned until a later date.

Hazell, 37, from New Addington, is charged with murdering the schoolgirl between August 2 and 11.

He appeared at the Old Bailey via video-link from Belmarsh prison in south east London yesterday, and was remanded in custody to appear for a plea and case management hearing at the same court on November 19.

A provisional trial date was set for January 21 next year.

Hazell is the partner of Ms Sharp, 46, who was arrested on suspicion of murder but bailed on Sunday pending further inquiries.

Her next-door neighbour, Paul Meehan, 39, has been bailed on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Police only discovered Tia's body after several visits to the terraced property, and have apologised to her mother, Natalie Sharp, for the delay.

A serious case review has been launched into Tia's death by Merton Council, which has responsibility for Mitcham, south London, where Tia lived with her mother.

PA

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