Life sentence for UK child sex murder

2013-05-14 14:02

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London - A British man was jailed for life on Tuesday for sexually assaulting and murdering a 12-year-old girl before hiding her body in the attic of the home he shared with her grandmother.

Stuart Hazell, aged 37, was told by a judge at London's Old Bailey court that he will serve a minimum of 38 years in prison for the murder of Tia Sharp in August last year.

Hazell, who was the boyfriend of Tia's grandmother, had finally admitted killing the schoolgirl on Monday, the fifth day of his trial, after previously claiming she died by falling down the stairs.

Tia's family were forced to sit through days of gruesome evidence, including a nude picture of the schoolgirl apparently taken after she died.

There was sobbing in the court and a shout of "beast" as Hazell was sentenced.

"She was a sparky girl who was full of life but you took that life from her," judge Andrew Nicol told him.

Police apology

"All that lay ahead of her - a career, loves and family of her own - will now never be. And the loss of her has been devastating for her mother, her father and all her relatives and friends."

The schoolgirl most likely died from being smothered, the judge said, but her body had decomposed by the time it was found.

London's Metropolitan Police were forced to apologise after two searches of Hazell's home in Croydon, a suburb to the south of the capital, failed to find Tia's body.

She was finally found eight days after the murder. Scotland Yard had tasked 80 officers with scouring CCTV footage for a trace of her and following up purported sightings.

The court heard that Hazell, a window cleaner and convicted drug dealer, had developed a sexual attraction towards Tia while living with her grandmother for more than five years.

He had previously also dated Tia's mother.

Fascination for child pornography

Hazell murdered Tia while her grandmother was working a night shift.

The schoolgirl's blood was found on a sex toy in the house and on Hazell's belt, and his semen was on her sheets, the court heard. He wrapped her body in a sheet and plastic and hid it in the loft.

After finding the body, police searched Hazell's phone and found that he had a fascination for child pornography. He had also secretly filmed Tia rubbing suncream into her legs and sleeping.

Some of the schoolgirl's relatives shouted "Nowhere near long enough" and "RIP Tia" as they walked out of the court.

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