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Tia Sharp 'idolised' Stuart Hazell, grandmother tells court

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TIA Sharp's grandmother would have "killed" her boyfriend Stuart Hazell if she had realised he had murdered her, a court has heard. Christine Bicknell, sat in court between Tia's mother and stepfather today and listened as her version of Tia's disappearance was read to the jury. "I knew nothing about her death and if I did, he (Hazell) would be dead and I would be inside because I would have killed him," she said. Christine, 47, described her boyfriend as "soft" and that she believed her granddaughter was safe being alone with him in the house. "Stuart loved Tia and she idolised him," she said. "Stuart has never told me about killing Tia. I loved Stuart with all my heart. He was my whole world." The carer was at work when Tia came to stay at the house she lived in with Hazell at The Lindens in New Addington on August 2. Jurors heard how Tia texted Hazell the day before and asked: "Can I stay at your house all weekend please?" The following day they arranged to meet by CEX at East Croydon station, which they did at around 3.45pm. The jury were played CCTV footage showing them getting the tram towards New Addington and then alighting at Gravel Hill tram stop, walking past the Esso on Selsdon Park Road and shopping in the Co-op in Forestdale. They then took the T31 bus to New Addington and got off at Fieldway near The Lindens. At 19.14pm that evening Christine called Hazell, saying she could hear Tia laughing in the background. A few minutes later Hazel sent his partner of five-and-a-half years a text message which said Tia would be going to bed after watching Family Guy and he would then "pass out". The couple then exchanged text messages saying goodnight at around 23.44pm. Tia often used BlackBerry Messenger to contact her friends. The last message she sent was on 12.42am on August 3. The prosecution claim Hazell sexually assaulted and murdered Tia later that morning, taking a picture of her "posed" dead body, before hiding her in the loft. In her statement, Christine said she arrived home from work on August 3 and found Hazell at home alone. "I said to Stuart, where is Tia? He told me that she had gone to Croydon to get a pair of flip-flops and he had told her to be back by 6pm," she explained. "He had given her our last tenner and I was very mad with him." Jurors were told they only started to worry when Tia had not returned home at 7.15pm. Christine described how she and Hazell went to look for the schoolgirl at a funfair in Ashburton Park, Addiscombe, before going to Croydon Police station with Tia's mother to report her missing at around 10pm. "I was worried sick," said Christine. "I got the impression Stuart was worried too. I thought he must have been feeling guilty because he told her to go to Croydon." Christine said that, during the huge missing persons search that followed, her partner was "under pressure". "People were pointing fingers at him saying he was the last person to see her," she said. "I could see the look on his face. I knew he had a lot of **** going on." The prosecution claim Hazell wanted to move Tia's body but was unable to because the house was "besieged" by the press. On August 9 he left the house in the early hours of the morning, leaving a note which said: "Back in a bit baby, went for a walk before the press get here xxx love you." "He had been in a daze and had been walking around aimlessly," said Christine. "I assume he had gone out to clear his head." The jury were told that the grandmother began to notice a smell in the house on August 9. When a police officer visited the following next day, Christine apologised, saying: "Very sorry, a cat has **** somewhere and we can't find it." The house was searched by the police for the third time and Tia's body was discovered in the loft, wrapped in a sheet and placed in a bin bag. Another bag next to it contained clothing with Tia's blood on it. Hazell was arrested in Merton later that day after being spotted by a member of the public. He remained silent when interviewed by detectives but later told a prison officer that Tia had accidentally fallen down the stairs and broken her neck. Christine first met Stuart around 2003-04 when she was a barmaid at the Raynes Park Tavern in Merton. Hazell then had a relationship with Natalie, which her mum said lasted a couple of weeks in 2002-03. He and Christine started seeing each other in April 2007 and a week later he moved in to the house in The Lindens, where she had lived since November 1994. According to his partner, Hazell smoked around two joints of marijuana a day and had issues with alcohol. "I knew Stuart was a drinker and I would say to him not to drink around my grandchildren," she said. "I don't drink, I don't like drugs." "He didn't totally stop drinking. He had a couple of cans of Fosters at night which I didn't mind. "I know sometimes on the way home from work he would buy a small bottle of vodka and drink it all. "It was mainly when he was seeing his dad or sister. He wouldn't do it front of me because I would go ballistic." Christine said it was "likely" he had bought a can of larger when meeting Tia on Thursday afternoon. She refuted the suggestion that the couple had argued or separated around the time of Tia's disappearance. "We've never split up," she said. "We don't split up, we've never had a rocky period in our relationship that I can think of. "He absolutely adored all the grand kids and they loved him to pieces. They would kiss and cuddle him. I would have had to pin them down to get the same attention. "This is what I don't understand. All of the grandchildren are so for him. He doesn't tell them off or smack them. He wasn't an ogre, he isn't horrible. He is so soft, the most they got off him is he raised his voice. It doesn't make any sense." Christine said she had no idea Hazell had been filming her granddaughter but added "Tia was not the sort of girl you could groom". "She was a mouthy 12-year-old, you couldn't force her to do anything, she would give you mouth."

Tia Sharp 'idolised' Stuart Hazell, grandmother tells court


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