Tia Sharp Murder: Stuart Hazell Pleads Guilty

Tia Sharp's father has called for Stuart Hazell to be hanged after he finally admitted killing his daughter.

Steven Carter's comments came after a dramatic turn of events at the Old Bailey, during which Hazell said the 12-year-old's family had "suffered enough" and he changed his plea to guilty.

Hazell, 37, had originally denied killing the schoolgirl and hiding her body in the loft of the home he shared with her grandmother in New Addington, south London.

"He did not want to put (the family) through any further stages of this trial or this process," said his defence barrister, Lord Carlile.

Hazell had been expected to be sentenced on Monday, but the judge adjourned the proceedings.

Prosecutors argued he should receive a jail term of at least 30 years, while Lord Carlile said Hazell accepted he would spend "decades and decades" in prison.

However, speaking outside court, Tia's father said: "In my opinion it will not be enough. He should serve his time and be hung (sic).

"I do not see today's events as justice for Tia - merely a legal conviction."

In a victim statement, Tia's mother, Natalie Sharp, said: "I've lost my trust in everyone. It's hard for me to imagine she's really gone."

She said she has "so many questions" for Hazell, adding: "Sometimes I feel pity. Sometimes I want to hurt him."

In his statement, Mr Carter said his heart had been "shattered" by his daughter's death.

"My last memory of Tia is her jumping into my arms, giving me a kiss and her telling me she loved me," he said.

"I will never get this opportunity again, but it is one of the many memories I will cherish for the rest of my life."

Tia's body, which the prosecution said was "carefully wrapped" in a sheet and bin bags, was found a week after she went missing in August last year.

Jurors heard Hazell's semen was found on her bed and on her night clothes, while her blood was found on the belt Hazell was wearing when he was arrested.

Tia's disappearance sparked a huge police operation, but her body was missed during initial searches of the loft.

Handout CCTV stills issued by the Met Police show Tia Sharp on a bus with Stuart Hazell (PA)
Hazell - who has previous convictions for drug dealing, burglary, theft, racially aggravated assault and possession of a machete in a public place - joined the search for the youngster.

In a television interview filmed at the time, he claimed he was "playing the role of bereaved grandparent".

His change of plea came after four days of graphic evidence, including a photograph allegedly of Tia after she died.

Mrs Sharp frequently had to leave the courtroom, visibly distressed.

During the trial, the jury was shown a letter Hazell wrote to his father from Belmarsh Prison, begging for forgiveness.

He said he was not a "bad person" and added: "One mistake and my whole world has collapsed. My fault, I know."

DCI Nick Scola, senior investigation officer of the Homicide and Serious Crime Command, said: "The evidence was overwhelming and clearly Hazell realised he had no choice but to plead guilty.

"However, he put Tia's family through a week of heartbreaking evidence in court and I wish for their sakes he had admitted his guilt sooner.

"Hazell is an extremely dangerous individual who poses a significant threat to young girls and it is only right that he should be imprisoned and removed from society so that he can no longer pose any risk."

Judge Mr Justice Nicol adjourned sentencing to consider mitigating statements from Lord Carlile, who told the court Hazell "probably did" love Tia.

Pleading guilty was "possibly the first brave decision of his life", Lord Carlile said, adding that every day of his sentence will be a punishment and he will be in "constant danger".

Steven Carter (centre), the father of Tia Sharp, makes a statement to the media today (PA)
More details about Hazell's life emerged on what would have been the fifth day of his trial.

The court heard his mother was a prostitute and he was first convicted of a crime at the age of 14.

He also claims to have been raped in a homeless hostel when he was 16, and has a history of depression, self harm and suicide attempts.

Hazell, who turns 38 later this month, is due to be sentenced later.