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Exclusive: Questions over grandmother's account of night Tia Sharp reported missing

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FAIRGROUND workers have raised questions about Christine Bicknell's account of what she did on the night her granddaughter Tia Sharp was reported missing.

In a statement read out in court, Ms Bicknell told police that she and Stuart Hazell went to look for the 12-year-old at a funfair in Ashburton Park, Addiscombe.

But the manager and the head of security of J. Davis & Son Funfairs both told the Advertiser that no one came to look for Tia.

We spoke to fairground staff before Tia's body was found in the loft of Ms Bicknell's home in The Lindens, New Addington, on August 10 last year, but have only now been able to publish the story for legal reasons.

Charmaine Davis, who operates the amusement park with her husband John, was working in the entrance kiosk on August 3 last year with her best friend and her daughter, McKenzie

Mrs Davis told the Advertiser: "I was in the box most of the time and if I wasn't there, my daughter or my best friend was.

"No one asked me if they could come in and look for a missing girl.

"We're on the entrance, which is pretty quiet after 7pm. We would remember someone asking about a missing girl."

Ms Bicknell was working a night shift at a care home when Hazell sexually assaulted and killed her granddaughter in the early hours of August 3.

Last Wednesday, jurors at the Old Bailey were read the 47-year-old's statement. Ms Bicknell said she returned home at around 3pm and had a nap. When she woke up and asked where Tia was, Hazell said she had gone shopping in Croydon and was due back at 6pm.

Ms Bicknell began to worry at 7.15pm so they decided to drive to the funfair because Tia had been there before with a friend.

"We went up to a security guard and said we were looking for my granddaughter who had gone missing," she said.

"My problem with making a description of her is that I didn't know what she was wearing. Stuart showed him a photograph on his phone.

"We went into the fair...I wasn't shouting her name just looking. We were there for 30 to 45 minutes and then went back out to the car and wondered what to do."

Hazell, 37, told police about the funfair in two separate interviews before repeating the story when speaking to ITN on August 9.

He explained: "We got into the car and went down to the funfair where I thought she might have snuck out to or something.

"We went down to the funfair (he turns to Tia's uncle David Sharp) it was Orpington, wasn't it?"

David replied: "Err...no it was Ashburton."

Mr Hazell said: "Ashburton Park. I walked the perimeter of the funfair, on the outside of the fence, to see if I could see her.

"Me and Chris, we couldn't see her so we went up to a security guard by the main gates.

"We explained what happened, (that) my granddaughter might have snuck off in there. So he let us in to go and have a look around.

"We were in there for a good hour. We looked all the way around. Chris went one way I went the other. We looked at every single ride. All the arcades. We stood by the Ghost Train thing. We looked everywhere basically."

Following the interview, the Advertiser contacted J. Davis & Son Funfairs.

Mrs Davis, who said there was only one way into the fair, said: "No family members came in and asked about looking for Tia.

"They would have to come to the front window and ask to go in and look for her.

"I don't recall anyone doing that. Neither does my daughter or my best friend.

"We recall people coming and giving out leaflets the following day but we don't recall anyone coming and asking if they could look for a girl that evening. It would have stuck in our minds."

When asked whether anyone had asked to enter the fair to look for a missing girl, McKenzie, 17, said: "No. The only thing we had was on very late on Friday night, two women, between 25 and 30, came up and gave us some of the pictures and told us she had gone missing. Then they went."

Stephen Petley, of security firm Loc19, was one of two guards on duty that evening, and the only male.

The Advertiser showed Mr Petley a picture of Stuart Hazell, but he did not recognise him.

"I've talked to everyone who worked that night and none of them were asked about a missing 12-year-old," said Mr Petley.

"There was an incident during the day. A couple had lost a small child but that was resolved. It had nothing to do with this."

We passed this information to the police last Thursday, and asked Detective Chief Inspector Nick Scola, who led the murder investigation, what checks were done to confirm the veracity of the couple's accounts.

He was not in a position to answer before the Advertiser went to press because, a press officer said, reviewing statements would be a "lengthy process".

After Tia's body was discovered Ms Bicknell was arrested on suspicion of murder. In December police confirmed she would face no further action.

Exclusive: Questions over grandmother's account of night Tia Sharp reported missing


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