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Tia Sharp neighbour Paul Meehan is convicted of wasting police time

Neighbour gave false statement alleging that he had seen the school girl when she had already been murdered by Stuart Hazell.

The neighbour of Tia Sharp's grandmother was today convicted of wasting police time at Croydon's Magistrates' Court after giving a false statement that he had seen Tia walk past his house, when she had been murdered by Stuart Hazell.

Paul Meehan, a bus driver who lived next door to Tia’s grandmother Christine Bicknell, told detectives investigating her disappearance that he had seen the schoolgirl outside of his New Addington home on 3 August 2012. He told officers he was "100 per cent sure” that he had seen her. The last confirmed sighting of Tia was on 2 August at 4.30pm.

She was murdered some time between that evening and the following morning.

The court heard that he gave police a "vivid" description of the clothes he said he had seen Tia wearing.

Jocelyn Ledward, prosecuting, said Meehan had “deliberately lied”, and may have wanted to be 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 search.

Meehan, 40, said he had “confabulated” seeing Tia - his brain mistakenly filled in the blanks in good faith.

Meehan was convicted of "causing wasteful employment of the police by making a false report". 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."

The court heard there was no suggestion Meehan was in league with Hazell, who was jailed in May for a minimum of 38 years for Tia's murder.

Additional reporting by PA