Tia Sharp murder accused ‘not like Ian Huntley’

Tia Sharp's body was found in her grandmother's loft. Picture: Getty
Tia Sharp's body was found in her grandmother's loft. Picture: Getty
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The man who allegedly murdered schoolgirl Tia Sharp told a prison officer that her death was an accident and insisted: “I’m not like Ian Huntley”, a court has heard.

Prison officer Warren Fegan, who was working at Belmarsh when Stuart Hazell was taken there in August last year, told the Old Bailey yesterday that the 37-year-old denied “anything sexual” had happened between him and Tia.

Hazell is accused of sexually assaulting and murdering the 12-year-old between 2-10 August last year, which he denies.

Mr Fegan said: “He was saying, ‘I’m not like Ian Huntley, it was nothing sexual, I’m not a nonce’.

“He was saying that the press was trying to make it look like it was sexual but it wasn’t.”

He added: “He said that it was an accident, she had fallen down stairs and broken her neck.”

Prosecutors claim that Hazell killed Tia and hid her body in the loft of the house that he shared with the youngster’s grandmother, Christine Bicknell, in New Addington, south London.

Mr Fegan said: “He said that he didn’t know what to do and he picked her up and took her upstairs and laid her on the bed, and he thought that she would get better.

“He didn’t know what to do, so he wrapped her in a sheet and put her in the loft.”

He said Hazell was full of remorse and felt sorry and guilty.

Mr Fegan told the jury that when Hazell was assessed at the prison, the risk of him harming himself was “at the far extreme”.

“He really wanted to kill himself. He was saying he was sorry and he felt guilty. Initially he was fearing for his personal safety.”

Earlier, prison officer Paul Leahy told the court that Hazell had said police should investigate his neighbours, and that he had been “fitted up”.

“He said that the police had fitted him up and he claimed that there were six people to see her after him,” Mr Leahy said.

Hazell told the guard that the group of houses where he lived had interlinking lofts, and insisted that someone had moved Tia’s body into the space above his house. Mr Leahy said Hazell told him: “What the press don’t tell you is that all six or eight houses have joint lofts.

“The police have searched my house four times and not found anything. In my opinion, someone has moved her into my loft.”

The court also heard that an indecent picture alleged to be of Tia was taken after she had died.

The picture, which shows a naked girl on all fours on a bed but does not show her face, is claimed by prosecutors to be an image taken on the night she was murdered. It was found on a memory card hidden on a door-frame at the house.

Forensic pathologist Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl told the jury that in his opinion the person in the photograph was dead when it was taken.

“When I saw the photograph, there were changes in the body that suggested to me the individual was dead,” he said.

Dr Fegan-Earl said it was not possible to come to a definite conclusion about the cause of Tia’s death.

“Taking into account the case as presented to me, some form of suffocation or chest compression would appear to be the most likely cause of death,” he said. The trial continues.