Murder of Tia Sharp
The murder of Tia Sharp (30 June 2000 – 2–3 August 2012) was a high-profile case of child murder in the United Kingdom. The victim was a 12-year-old girl, Tia Sharp, who was reported missing from and later found dead in the home of her grandmother in New Addington, London, in August 2012. After her body was discovered, police arrested her grandmother, Christine Bicknell, and Christine's then-boyfriend, Stuart Hazell on suspicion of murder. Hazell was charged with Tia Sharp's murder on 12 August.
|Born||30 June 2000|
|Disappeared||2 August 2012 (aged 12)|
New Addington, London, United Kingdom
|Died||2 or 3 August 2012 (aged 12)|
New Addington, South London, United Kingdom
|Cause of death||Homicide of undetermined etiology|
|Body discovered||New Addington, South London, United Kingdom|
|Resting place||Merton and Sutton Joint Cemetery|
Morden, London Borough of Merton, United Kingdom
|Known for||Murder victim|
Stuart Edward Hazell
26 May 1975
|Residence||HM Prison Wakefield|
Wakefield, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
|Criminal status||In prison|
|Penalty||Life imprisonment (38-year minimum term)|
|10 August 2012|
|Imprisoned at||HM Prison Belmarsh|
Thamesmead, London, United Kingdom
On 7 August, Sharp's uncle, David Sharp, made a televised plea for her safe return. Fifty-five sightings were reported by members of the public, but none was substantiated. Eighty police officers were assigned to the search, and 800 hours of CCTV footage were collected. On 9 August, Hazell gave an interview to Mark Williams-Thomas for ITV News, denying that he had done anything to Sharp and praying for her safe return.
On 10 August, a body was discovered in a black bed sheet in a black bag in the loft of the home of Sharp's grandmother, after police visited it for the fourth time. Police launched a search for Hazell, and arrested him on suspicion of murder that evening at 8:25pm at Cannon Hill Common, Morden, after a tip-off from a member of the public. It was later announced that two further arrests had been made: Sharp's grandmother, Christine Bicknell, on suspicion of murder, and Bicknell's neighbour, Paul Meehan, on suspicion of assisting an offender. Bicknell and Meehan were subsequently bailed. Commander Neil Basu, the officer in charge of the investigation, apologised to Tia Sharp's mother for the delay in finding her daughter's body. He blamed human error and said that a review would be undertaken "to ensure such a failing is not repeated". Shortly after Hazell's arrest, memory cards were recovered from Christine Bicknell's residence. One was particularly well hidden in a door frame on the ground floor of the property. Police were able to recover images and videos, some of which had been deleted. Some of the files portrayed Tia in sexual positions, believed to have been taken post-mortem, whereas others were voyeuristic images of when Tia was still alive, for example videos of Tia applying moisturiser to her legs, or of Tia asleep in her bedroom. It has been suggested by Forensic Psychologist Dr Keri Nixon that Hazell may have kept these images for later sexual gratification.
In the early hours of 12 August, Hazell was charged with the murder of Sharp. He appeared before Camberwell Green magistrates' court on 13 August via video-link. No plea was entered and the case was committed to the Old Bailey for trial, with a first appearance on 15 August, also via video-link, with a preliminary hearing set for 19 November and a provisional trial date set for 21 January 2013. He was remanded in custody to Belmarsh prison where he was kept in isolation for his own safety.
A post-mortem on the body began on 10 August, and paused later that day. By 16 August, the post-mortem had still not been completed, but at an inquest into the death, which opened that day, it was confirmed that the body was that of Tia Sharp. The post-mortem later concluded without establishing the cause of death. Experts told This is Croydon Today that the delay in finding the body made it much harder to establish the cause of death, and that without a cause of death the prosecution would find it much harder to build a case. However, detectives suspected, and it was widely reported, that Tia Sharp was smothered, although this was not officially proven to be the cause of death. It has been suggested by Forensic Psychologist Dr Keri Nixon that Hazell may have made sexual advances towards Tia, and murdered her when she rebuffed him and threatened to tell her mother.
On 23 August police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe addressed his force's failure to find Sharp's body. He said the error could not be attributed to a single officer, and that he wanted to "understand what processes and management decisions we've made that led to that failure."
It was announced on 26 November 2012 that Hazell would face trial in May 2013.
On 5 February 2013, neighbour Paul Meehan was charged with wasting police time. He appeared at Croydon magistrates' court on 28 February 2013, where he denied the charge against him and was released on bail for a one-day trial on 29 July.
Hazell pleaded not guilty to murder when he appeared in court on 8 March 2013.
The trial of Hazell began on 7 May 2013 before Mr Justice Nicol. On 13 May, Hazell changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment on 14 May with a minimum term of 38 years, meaning he will be 75 years old before he is eligible for parole.
In June 2013, Sharp's biological father, Steven Carter, announced that he was going to be a father again, as his girlfriend was pregnant. In July 2013, Carter said he backed a plan for websites to be told to block certain search terms and warn people when they try to view illegal content.
In June 2013, the home of Christine Bicknell and Stuart Hazell, where Tia Sharp was murdered, was demolished and in mid-2014, work began on new houses being built on the site.
In November 2013, partly in response to the murders of Tia Sharp and April Jones, the search engines Google and Bing modified their systems to block results from searches aimed at producing child abuse images.
In March 2014, the murder of Tia Sharp was featured in CI Channel's series, Britain's Darkest Taboos, as the first episode of Series 3, broadcast on 16 March 2014.
- "The murder of Tia Sharp". crimeandinvestigation.co.uk. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
- "Missing: The murder of Tia Sharp". murdermap.co.uk. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
- "Tia Sharp: Police concern over missing girl". Bbc.co.uk. 4 August 2012.
- "Tia Sharp search: Body found in grandmother's house". Bbc.co.uk. 10 August 2012.
- "Tia Sharp: Grandmother Christine arrested over murder". BBC.co.uk. 11 August 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
- "Tia Sharp police arrest Stuart Hazell on suspicion of murder". Bbc.co.uk. 10 August 2012.
- "Tia Sharp police charge Stuart Hazell with her murder". Bbc.co.uk. 12 August 2012.
- "Tia Sharp Murder: Stuart Hazell Sentenced". Sky News. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
- "Stepfather's Agony Over Missing Tia Sharp". BSkyB. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- "Missing Tia Sharp's uncle appeals for her safe return–video". The Guardian. London, UK. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- James Meikle and agencies (7 August 2012). "Tia Sharp stepfather says family 'in bits' over missing London 12-year-old". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- "Tia Sharp: Eighty officers in search for Croydon girl". BBC. 8 August 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
- "'Did I do anything to Tia? No, I love her to bits': Stuart Hazell's interview the night before body found in hunt for missing schoolgirl". The Mirror. London, UK. 10 August 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
- "Tia Sharp murder accused Stuart Hazell remanded". BBC. 13 August 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
- Davies, Caroline (13 August 2012). "Tia Sharp:Stuart Hazell sent for trial". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
- "Tia Sharp search: Body found in grandmother's house". BBC News. 10 August 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
- Barrett, David; Leach, Ben (11 August 2012). "Tia Sharp: police face questions after body discovered in grandmother's house". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
- "Tia Sharp: timeline of her disappearance". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. 12 August 2012.
- "Tia Sharp: Met Police admit body search error". Metro.co.uk. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
- Britain's Darkest Taboos, S3: Ep. 2, 2016
- "Tia Sharp: step-grandfather in isolation amid fears of attacks from inmates at Belmarsh Prison". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. 15 August 2012.
- "Tia Sharp: Grandmother of murdered schoolgirl told to keep away from the funeral". Mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
- "Tia Sharp's body identified as inquest opens". The Guardian. London, UK. 16 August 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
- "Tia Sharp: Bungled police search 'may make it harder to prove schoolgirl was murdered'". Thisiscroydontoday.co.uk. Archived from the original on 27 August 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
- "Tia Sharp death: Police consider smothering theory". BBC News. 13 August 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
- Britain's Darkest Taboos, S3: Ep. 2, 2016
- "Tia Sharp: Search failings 'not down to any one officer'". BBC. 22 August 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
- "Tia Sharp: Private family funeral for schoolgirl held". BBC. 14 September 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
- "Little Tia is laid to rest at last". Thisiscroydontoday.co.uk. 21 September 2012. Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
- "Tia Sharp: Stuart Hazell To Face Trial In May". Uk.news.yahoo.com. 26 November 2012.
- "Tia Sharp's Grandmother Won't Face Charges". BSkyB. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "Tia Sharp's Grandmother Won't Face Charges". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "Tia Sharp death: No action against grandmother Christine Sharp". BBC. 7 December 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- "Tia Sharp: Neighbour Charged Over Murder Hunt". BSkyB. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- "Tia Sharp death: Stuart Hazell denies murder". BBC. 8 March 2013. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
- "Tia Sharp murder trial: Stuart Hazell jailed for 38 years". BBC News. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
- "Tia Sharp murder trial: Stuart Hazell pleads guilty". BBC News. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- "Tia Sharp neighbour guilty of wasting police time". ITV News. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
- "Tia Sharp's grieving dad Steven Carter set to become father again". Mirror News. 18 June 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
- "Tia Sharp's Father Backs Child Abuse Image Ban". Sky News. 21 July 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
- "Tia Sharp murder house in New Addington demolished". bbc.co.uk. 28 June 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
- "April Jones's grandmother welcomes move to block abuse images". bbc.co.uk. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013.