The last family member to see 12-year-old Tia Sharp before she went missing on a shopping trip one week ago said last night that he felt people were blaming him for the girl’s disappearance.
Tia was last seen at lunchtime last Friday when she left her grandmother’s home in New Addington, southeast London, but since then there has been no sign of her. Police are continuing to go through hundreds of hours of CCTV footage retrieved from the area.
Stuart Hazell, her grandmother’s partner, was with her in the house before she left and has given a statement to police about her last known movements. "I do feel that people are pointing the finger at me because till the other day it was known that I was the last person to see her but I wasn't,” he told ITN News.
One other person has come forward to give a statement to say that the girl was seen leaving the terrace house on the estate.
“I know deep down in my heart that Tia walked out of my house, she walked out of there, I know damn well she was seen walking down the pathway, she made her way down that track, what happened after that I don't know.”
He added: “She's got a loving home, she's never gone without anything, I can't work out what the hell is going on.”
More than 80 officers have been involved in the hunt for Tia, and volunteers have been handing out leaflets on the roads around the estate where she often stayed with her grandmother, Christine Sharp, 46, and Mr Hazell, 37.
The Scotland Yard team searching for Tia has consulted with forces involved in similar cases including West Yorkshire police, which investigated the case of a girl, Shannon Matthews, kidnapped by members of her family to try to secure a £50,000 ransom.
“This case, like the Shannon Matthews case, involved the search for a missing child. This is a missing-person inquiry and we are putting all of our resources into finding her,” said a police spokesman.