Tia Sharp suspect Stuart Hazell to face court after police say sorry


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The Independent Online

Stuart Hazell, the man accused of murdering the missing schoolgirl Tia Sharp, will appear in court today via video link.

The 12-year-old's body was found in his home on Friday after a series of bungled police searches.

Mr Hazell, 37, who is the partner of Tia's grandmother, Christine Sharp, was charged early yesterday following his arrest on Friday evening in Morden, south-west London, about 10 miles from his home.

Tia was last seen on 3 August at the house on The Lindens estate in New Addington that Mr Hazell shared with Ms Sharp, 46.

Handwritten tributes, cuddly toys and balloons were piling up on the estate yesterday, a few yards from the house, which was cordoned off.

Tia's body was found there a week later during a fourth search of the property. She was reportedly discovered in the loft but police have declined to comment.

Tia's mother, Natalie Sharp, 30, wept as she examined the tributes yesterday with her partner David Niles. A note believed to have been left by Ms Sharp read: "Our baby girl, we love you very much and always will. Sorry baby that this has happened, I wish I was there to protect you."

Tia's biological father, Steven Carter, also visited the site with his family to pay his respects. "Just going down to look at all the flowers brings tears to your eyes," said one of the neighbours, Joanne Hickmott.

The Metropolitan Police apologised to the family on Saturday for its failure to find the body during three searches. It blamed the oversight on "human error" and said it would be reviewing the way it carried out searches to ensure it did not happen again.

Ms Sharp was also arrested on suspicion of murder but was released on bail. Her neighbour, Paul Meehan, 39, was bailed after being held on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Although the body has not yet been formally identified, the victim is named in the murder charge as Tia Sharp. A post-mortem examination to find the cause of death will resume later this week, the Metropolitan Police said. Tia lived with her mother in Mitcham but spent a lot of time with her grandmother and her partner in New Addington.