STUART Hazell was jailed for life with a minimum term of 38 years today after finally admitting the murder of schoolgirl Tia Sharp.
• Stuart Hazell must serve a minimum of 38 years in prison for the murder of Tia Sharp
• Hazell dramatically changed his plea yesterday after previously denying murder
The 37-year-old changed his plea on the fifth day of his trial at the Old Bailey yesterday, having forced 12-year-old Tia’s family to sit through days of shocking and graphic evidence, including a sickening picture of her taken after she died.
He had claimed that Tia was killed in an accident when she fell down the stairs, but prosecutors said that the window cleaner sexually assaulted her before murdering her and hiding her body in the loft of the home that he shared with her grandmother Christine Bicknell.
Stuart Hazell, 37, dramatically changed his plea yesterday and admitted murdering the 12-year-old in August last year.
Window cleaner Hazell hung his head in the dock as he changed his plea and jurors were asked to formally find him guilty.
Hazell, wearing a washed-out grey T-shirt, leaned forward as Lord Carlile asked for the charge to be put again. He clutched his hands in front of him and there was a slight pause when he was asked to plead. And then he said “guilty” as gasps from the public gallery rang around the oak-lined courtroom.
Lord Carlile, representing Hazell, said his client wanted to make it known that “Tia’s family have suffered enough and he did not want to put them through any further stages of this trial or this process”.
Tia’s father, Steve Carter, broke down in tears as Hazell changed his plea.
The development came after four days of graphic evidence during which Tia’s mother, Natalie Sharp, frequently had to leave the courtroom, visibly distressed.
The prosecution case included a grotesque photograph of a girl alleged to be Tia after she died.
Mr Justice Nicol is due to sentence Hazell later today.