Went Missing (Presumed Dead) 3rd August 2012
Tia Sharp (12), a schoolgirl, went missing from her grandmother’s house in New Addington, Croydon, South London on 3rd August 2012. A body has now been found in the house. It has not yet been identified, but is assumed to be Tia’s.
Stuart Hazell (37) the partner of Tia’s grandmother Christine Sharp, has been arrested on suspicion of her murder. Following a search, Hazell was arrested in the south London borough of Merton after he was identified by a member of the public.
Ms Sharp, a care worker, had left Tia in Hazell’s care while she worked a nightshift on the night before Tia disappeared. Hazell told the police Tia had gone out to buy shoes on Friday 3rd August and had not returned. It is understood Tia regularly visited her grandmother’s house.
Commander Neil Basu, of the Metropolitan Police, said the property had been searched three previous times in the week following her disappearance and the latest search was carried out with the “full co-operation” of the family. Ms Sharp, who left her home with police shortly before the final forensic search began, told reporters earlier that Hazell was out helping in the hunt for Tia.
Commander Basu said: “Our priority is to support the family of Tia at this distressing time and identify the body, which has been discovered, as quickly as possible. When Tia was first reported missing, officers searched her bedroom, as is normal practice in a missing persons inquiry.” He added “A further search of the house took place in the early hours of Sunday morning by a specialist team. This was then followed by another search of the house by specialist dogs on Wednesday lunchtime. What we now need to establish is how long the body had been in the place where it was found.”
Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell said the discovery of the body was “a huge blow” adding “The police have yet to formally confirm that the body is Tia’s, yet this devastating development will come as a huge blow to her family and the community in New Addington, all of whom have worked tirelessly to try to find her over the past week”.
It has been reported that Tia’s mother, Natalie Sharp (31) who lives in Mitcham, was previously in a relationship with Hazell. It has also been reported that he has a criminal record.
Up to 80 police officers were involved in the search for Tia, and more than 800 hours of CCTV footage has been gathered from the local area, trams and buses. Tia was last filmed by CCTV cameras on the afternoon of Thursday 2nd August outside the Co-op in Featherbed Lane, near her grandmother’s house.
Note: This report was drawn from reports in the BBC and Sky News. It was compiled on 10th August 2012.