THE LAST images of murdered schoolgirl Tia Sharp alive were shown to a jury today, as the panel heard how she “idolised” her alleged killer.
Jurors at the trial of Stuart Hazell, accused of sexually assaulting then killing the 12-year-old before hiding her body in a loft, were shown CCTV of the pair meeting at a train station on the afternoon of August 2.
They included footage of the pair walking along a platform after getting off a tram at Gravel Hill station, shopping in a branch of the Co-op supermarket and travelling on a T31 bus.
It is claimed that that night, Hazell murdered the schoolgirl at the home he shared with her grandmother Christine Bicknell, before hiding her body in the loft.
Tia’s body was found a week later, when the smell of her decomposing corpse started to permeate through the house in New Addington, south London.
As the jury at the Old Bailey was told details about the discovery of Tia’s body in the loft by police officers, her mother Natalie Sharp fled the courtroom in tears and did not return.
Hazell, 37, of New Addington, denies murdering the schoolgirl between August 2 and 10 last year.
A statement from his former partner Ms Bicknell, read to the jury, described how Tia “idolised” Hazell and was “his cling-on”.
She said: “When Tia went missing it didn’t cross my mind that she could be dead. I always thought she was coming home. It didn’t cross my mind that he would hurt her. He loved Tia, she idolised him.
“I love Stuart with all my heart, he was my world, but my grandchildren always came first.”
She said Tia would frequently stay at her house, often asking Hazell before she asked her, and said all her grandchildren “loved him to pieces”.
Ms Bicknell said Hazell, who had previously dated Tia’s mother, moved in with her a week after their relationship started in 2007.
She said she had thought back over her relationship and had not noticed any particular changes, nor had any worries about Hazell being around Tia.
“Tia was not the sort of girl you could groom,” she said. “She was a mouthy 12-year-old - you couldn’t force her to do anything.”
Ms Bicknell said Hazell - who the court has heard did internet searches for under-age girls - did not have access to the internet, and she had never known him download pornography on his phone.
She did find some pictures, but he claimed they had downloaded accidentally, the court heard.
Phone records read to the jury showed Tia arranging to meet Hazell at a train station in Croydon on August 2 last year.
That evening Ms Bicknell spoke to Hazell on the phone, and heard Tia laughing in the background.
The records showed Tia’s last BlackBerry message was sent at 00:42 on August 3, and revealed that later that day Hazell called the 12-year-old’s phone, after he had allegedly killed her.
After Tia was reported missing, the house was searched several times, including two searches of the loft, one each on August 4 and 5, but Tia’s body was not found.
On the night of August 9 Ms Bicknell noticed a smell in the house, but thought it was cat mess, the court heard.
The following day officers recognised the smell as a decomposing body, sparking another search of the loft.
Tia’s body was found wrapped in bin bags by officers, the court heard, and was identified by DNA and fingerprints.
Other bags were found inside another bin bag. One Sainsbury’s bag contained a yellow top and a grey pair of trousers or leggings - matching what Hazell told police Tia was wearing when she disappeared.
Another bag held a pair of glasses wrapped in newspaper, and others each contained a trainer wrapped in newspaper, one with a t-shirt which had marks on it.
Detective Constable Daniel Chatfield also described how a sex toy was found in the bedroom Hazell and Ms Bicknell shared, and a memory card was found on top of the door frame inside a cupboard that housed the electricity meter.
Earlier jurors heard how Adrian Van-Aalst, who let a window cleaning round to Hazell and another man, Mark Williams, said Hazell must have been “a fantastic liar” because he told colleagues that his father had died from a heart attack and would break down in tears about it, when in fact he was alive.
Describing the 37-year-old he said: “I would say he is not the smartest tool in the shed, he has an uncanny ability to change his version of events regardless of the importance.”
In a text message to Mr Van-Aalst after Tia had gone missing, Hazell complained about press coverage, saying: “They are getting everything wrong, they are guessing and making me look like Jack the Ripper.”
The case was adjourned until tomorrow at 10.15am at the Old Bailey.