Tia Sharp: Murder case file
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Tia Sharp disappeared on 3 August 2012 after
setting off to buy flip-flops at the Whitgift
shopping centre in Croydon. Her body was found
at her gran's house more than a week later.
Stuart Hazell, her gran's boyfriend, is accused
of her murder.
Friday 3 August: Tia Sharp is seen leaving her grandmother Christine Sharp's
home in New Addington, south-east London, at around midday. The 12-year-old
told relatives she was going to the Whitgift Centre in Croydon., but It was the
last time any of them saw her.
Monday 6 August: Tia's family makes an emotional plea for her to return home
as police find no trace of her on CCTV footage.
Tuesday 7 August: A CCTV image of Tia outside the local Co-op is released as
her grandmother says she hopes it will jog someone's memory. It is believed the
last person who saw Tia was Sharp's partner, Stuart Hazell. Police begin
searching a local wood, Birchwood, scouring the undergrowth with long sticks.
The Sun offers a £25,000 reward
Wednesday 8 August: Police take a German shepherd dog into Tia's
grandmother's house, where it is believed she was last seen. Volunteers and
members of the local community continue to hand out posters, wear "Find Tia"
T-shirts and conduct their own searches. Metropolitan police area commander
Neil Basu announces that police officers have been redirected from Olympic
duties to join an 80-strong team involved in the hunt for Tia. He says Scotland
Yard has received more than 300 calls and 60 reported sightings of Tia. Hazell,
37, is led from Sharp's house by two men in plain clothes and voluntarily
questioned by police.
Thursday 9 August: Police search bins outside Tia's grandmother's home and
around the estate where she lives, using sticks to scour through rubbish. Hazell
says he was not the last person to see her and makes an emotional plea for her
to return home in an interview with ITV News. The schoolgirl's uncle, David
Page | 2 Sharp, says Tia's family is "in bits".
Friday 10 August: Two detectives arrive at Tia's grandmother's house in the
morning, leaving 30 minutes later with brown evidence bags. A police sniffer dog
is brought to the property. Tia's grandmother leaves the house with police at
midday. Police seal off the area around the house at 1pm for a "pre-arranged
search". At 4.45pm police say they have found a body at the house. Hazell went
missing and then is arrested in Merton, south-west London, at 8.25pm and held
on suspicion of murder.
Saturday 11 August: Tia's grandmother, Christine Sharp, 46, is questioned at
a south London police station on suspicion of murder and Paul Meehan, a 39-
year-old neighbour, is taken into custody on suspicion of assisting an offender.
The pair are released on bail.
Later that evening, Hazell is charged with murder
after being interviewed by detectives. Police say he
will appear before magistrates on Monday.
Monday 13 August: Hazell is sent for trial at the
Old Bailey during his appearance at Camberwell
Green magistrates court via videolink from a custody suite at Sutton police
1. Why is the trial likely to be at the Old Bailey? What kind of court is this?
2. Why did Hazell appear at the magistrates’ court and not a crown court?
3. Will the public be able to attend the trial?
Family thank public – 8th August
Uncle’s appeal – 7th August
Tia Sharp: Murder case file
August 2012 Part 2
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WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS OF
FINDING THE BODY TOO LATE?
Having no cause of death could make a
conviction more difficult because it is
often relied on heavily by prosecutors
as crucial evidence in murder trials.
Meanwhile, a forensic pathologist has
said that Met blunders – which
delayed finding the 12-year-old's body for five days – will have "absolutely"
contributed to a post-mortem's failure to find out how and why she died. Last
week, an inquest at Croydon Coroner's Court confirmed a body found in Tia's
grandmother's loft, in New Addington, belonged to the schoolgirl, but ruled no
cause could be found.
Julian Young, a London solicitor advocate – equivalent to a barrister – who has
represented in criminal cases for 35 years, including more than 200 homicide
cases, said: "Without a cause of death, it makes the prosecution's job incredibly
"If you are charged with murder, it means that X kills the victim unlawfully, not
accidentally, therefore you have to be able to prove how that person died. The
prosecution has to provide how the victim died and who did it, and if the
pathologist comes back and says, 'we can't find cause of death', the Crown has
got really serious problems. It is as simple as that. They have got to prove
something unlawful has been done."
Mr Young's comments come after the Met admitted "human error" meant Tia's
body was not found in her grandmother's loft for a
week, despite them searching it two days after she
went missing. The force failed to find the body until
the fourth visit to the home in The Lindens, and
Commander Neil Basu personally apologised to mother
Natalie for the prolonged "distress" caused.
It is feared the blunder may have resulted in further vital evidence being lost.
Stuart Hazell, 37, Tia's grandmother's partner, has been charged with
murdering the schoolgirl and will appear in court in November. He is yet to enter
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Dr Stuart Hamilton, who has conducted more
than 2,500 post-mortems since 2003, said
the Met's discovery of Tia after seven
rather than two days may have led to the
failure to find a cause. "The simple answer is,
absolutely this will have had an effect," he
said. "The fresher a body is when we get it,
the more we can say. Similarly, the more
someone lies undiscovered, the more the
post-mortem changes and decomposition sets in.”
"Also, if you are talking about a body that has been kept in a loft, then it is not
going to have been kept in the optimum temperature, so decomposition will be
much quicker, making it, again, more difficult to look for injuries or bruises. If
you have a simple cause of death, like a gunshot wound, then something like that
is usually going to be fairly apparent, even a long time after death. "But if you
have a more subtle cause of death, like a smothering, it can be difficult in a
fresh body and very, very difficult with any degree of decomposition. Someone
who has been lying around for a week is not going to be in a good condition."
1) What are the problems of finding the body late – what difference will this
make to the charges brought against Stuart Hazell?
2) What does it mean when the text says “he has yet to enter a plea” when
they are talking about the accused Stuart Hazell?
3) What difference might the massive media attention have on the trial and
his sentence if found guilty?