Neighbour of Tia Sharp's grandmother convicted of wasting police time

Paul Meehan told detectives he saw her walk past his home, after she had died

A neighbour of the grandmother of Tia Sharp was today convicted of wasting police time by giving a false statement that he had seen her alive.

Bus driver Paul Meehan, 40, who lived next door to Christine Bicknell and her murderer boyfriend Stuart Hazell, told detectives investigating the schoolgirl's disappearance he saw her walk past his home in New Addington on August 3 last year.

He told officers he was "100% sure" he saw her but the 12-year-old was already dead.

Today, at Croydon Magistrates' Court, Meehan was convicted of "causing wasteful employment of the police by making a false report".

Hazell was jailed in May for a minimum of 38 years for killing Tia.

The court heard there was no suggestion Meehan was in league with Hazell.

Meehan remained impassive as the verdict was delivered.

However, as the hearing adjourned he sat down and buried his head in his hands.

The last confirmed sighting of Tia was on Thursday August 2 at 4.30pm.

She was murdered some time that night going into the following morning.

On Monday August 6 as the missing 12-year-old's family were frantic with worry, Meehan told police he had seen her walk past him the previous Friday while he was in his garden.

He gave a detailed and “vivid” description of what she was wearing, the court heard, which delayed police from interviewing Hazell earlier.

But police had spoke to Meehan about the case three times before he finally said he saw her.

His explanation is that he “confabulated” seeing her - his brain mistakenly filled in the blanks in good faith.

Jocelyn Ledward, prosecuting, said Meehan had “deliberately lied” possibly to put himself in an important position in what was then a missing persons inquiry.

She said it was possible that he was attention seeking and was “puffed up” by being important to the inquiry.

District Judge Karen Hammond said Meehan was unreliable.

She said: “I am satisfied so that I am sure, that is to say, beyond reasonable doubt.

“The offence is made out.

“The verdict therefore can only be one of guilty.”

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy