AFTER subjecting Tia Sharp's family to four days of harrowing court proceedings, Stuart Hazell decided they had "suffered enough" and pleaded guilty to murdering the 12-year-old. The Old Bailey had been preparing for the prosecution to continue to detail the overwhelming evidence against the 37-year-old when, this morning, the clerk was asked to read the indictment again. When asked for his plea, Hazell lowered his head and said: "Guilty". It was the first true word the former window cleaner had said since Tia was reported missing on August 3 last year. His latest lie was that Tia had he panicked and hidden Tia's body in the loft after she accidentally fell down the stairs and broke her neck. The truth of what happened may never be known but today Hazell finally admitted he murdered a little girl who idolised him, probably by smothering her. Then he posed her naked body for, the prosecution say, his own sexual gratification and took a photograph, which police later found on a memory card hidden in 20 The Lindens, a house which will now be demolished. Hazell's barrister, Lord Carlile QC, said that his client had an "extraordinary capacity for living through lies that he had made up". He added: "The easiest thing for him would have been to brazen out the rest of this case and to allow us as his counsel to address the jury on his behalf and say the prosecution case just wasn't strong enough. "His decision to plead guilty today is probably the bravest decision he has ever made in his life – maybe the only brave decision he's made in his life." This will be little consolation to Tia's family, who often broke down in tears as the court were told of Hazell's sexual interest in the schoolgirl. His obsession him to search the internet for indecent images of children wearing glasses and pony tails, like Tia. He even recorded her when she was asleep. Detectives believe he deliberately removed the bathroom door so he could spy on the schoolgirl, and modified the light socket in her room to create a 'spyhole'. Somehow that interest had deadly consequences for Tia, who had met the man she thought of as a grandfather at East Croydon station on the afternoon of August 2. They travelled back towards New Addington by tram. On the way they stopped off at the Co-op in Forestdale, where Tia is seen on CCTV flicking through the magazines like a girl of her age might do. They returned back to the house Hazell shared with Tia's grandmother, Christine Bicknell, who was on a night shift at the care home she worked at. At 12.40pm Tia sent her last message on BlackBerry Messenger. Using the indecent images found on the two memory cards police were able to say she died at some point between 3am and 6am. Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting, argued that Hazell should face a whole life sentence because the murder was sexually motivated. "We do not know and will never know exactly what took place in the house that night, but it is the submission of the prosecution that Hazell committed a significant sexual offence against her, killed her, took her photograph as some sort of keepsake and then, in quite a calculated way, wrapped up the body". Tia's blood was found on a sex toy recovered from the house and Hazell's semen was discovered on her duvet. Her DNA was also found in blood on a belt in his bag when arrested. Hazell's barrister, who has urged the judge not to impose a whole life term, said his client did not set out to murder Tia or to find sexual gratification by killing her. "He accepts that whatever happened that night he killed her," said Lord Carlile, "but he pleads guilty not on the basis he intended or set out to kill her at the beginning of the evening but that death occurred during what happened that night. "We are not concerned with a man who, over a long period of years, has been interfering with large numbers of children or indeed any other children." Hazell, who was taken into care at an early age after his father was sent to prison, had a string of previous convictions, including supplying cocaine and possession of a machete, but nothing of a sexual or seriously violent nature. Whatever his sentence, her family have been left with the consequences of his cowardly actions. In an impact statement read to court, Natalie Sharp, Tia's mother, said: "When I knew I was expecting Tia, I was so happy that I would have something to love. "Tia's father, Steven, disappeared before she was born and I realised that the unique relationship I had with my Nanny would be repeated with Tia and my mum. "When Tia came along I had a reason to keep out of trouble; if it had not been for her, my life would have been very different. She was mine and I had someone to love. "When I was told Tia had gone missing, I always believed she would come back. At the very worst I'd have to face the fact that someone had touched her and scared and hurt her. I never really considered that she would be dead. How could I? "Since Tia was taken I have lost my trust in everyone. It's too hard for me to believe she is really gone. "Jack, my eldest son, who is three, asked me just this week if Tia was coming home from school soon. I've had to tell him the truth. It made him really cry. "I told him that Tia is a star in the sky and now when we go up to say goodnight, we look out of the bedroom window and speak to the star, the one that was bought in Tia's name." Natalie added: "I have so much to ask Stuart. Sometimes I feel pity for him but I want to hurt him. I could never manage to hurt him like her hurt me." In his impact statement Tia's father, Steven Carter, said his daughter's death had "shattered" his heart. "We will never get the chance to see Tia walk down the aisle and get married, and have children of her own," he said. "We have all lost someone special". Outside court Mr Carter added: "Four days of trial have been very hard to deal with, hearing the vile things Hazell did to Tia. "Hazell will be sentenced tomorrow. In my opinion it will not be enough. He should serve his time, then be hung (sic)." Hazell will be sentenced today at 10.30am(Tuesday).
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