Tia Sharp: Stuart Hazell’s drunken fist, the body in the loft and claiming a reward
TIA Sharp is front-page news. If it bleeds it leads, runs the old news mantra. Tia Sharp has died. Stuart Hazell, a man who lives with her grandmother, Christine Sharp. He is the last person believed to have seen her alive. He’s been arrested on suspicion of her murder. The news round-up:
Update: Christine Sharp, 46, was arrested on suspicion of murder yesterday and is being held at a south London police station.
Update 2: South-East London Area Commander Neil Basu said: “An early review has been conducted and it is now clear that human error delayed the discovery of the body within the house. We have apologised to Tia’s mother that our procedures did not lead to the discovery of the body on this search.”
Daily Mail (front page): “SHAMBLES – Despite a week-long hunt by 100 police with dogs, Tia was found dead in her granny’s house, which officers had searched THREE times…and man they quizzed has disappeared.”
The Mail blames the police, names the victim but steers clear of naming the accused man in its headline.
The Yorkshire Post sees the Mail’s three searches and trumps it:
Tia detectives ‘searched house four times before body found’
The Daily Mirror’s front page asks: “Why did it take cops 8 Days?” Tia Sharp went missing on August 3. Should the police have turned the family home over on Day 1?
The Sun leads with “NICKED.” It adds: “7 days to find her at gran’s. Locals’ fury as Tia found dead in loft”
7 days. Not 8. Can the tabloids agree on anything?
The Mail’s front page says police refuse to say where Tia’s body was found. The Sun adds:
Tia’s body was found in the loft and detectives are examining the possibility the body was switched between cavities to neighbouring properties to put officers off the scent, a source said. It has not yet been established when Tia died.
The Sun reports on the fear:
Choking back tears, mum-of-three Ginny Oteng, 46, said: “I have kids the same age as Tia and I was worried because I thought there was a child snatcher out there. I was praying Tia would be found alive and well. I had my suspicions but it is still such a shock.”
Fear promoted by the Mail, which reported on a white van in the area.
The police issue a statement. Commander Neil Basu states:
“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. Clearly there will be many questions about the investigation into Tia’s disappearance. When police investigate cases as difficult and challenging as this, it is important that we do not just focus on one line of inquiry. For example, we had over 60 reported sightings of Tia, 800 hours of CCTV footage to examine and 300-plus calls to the incident room. All of these lines of enquiry were in the process of being followed-up. A number of searches took place at the address. When Tia was first reported missing, officers searched her bedroom, as is normal practice in a missing persons inquiry. 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. We now need to establish how long the body had been in the place where it was found. It would be wrong to jump to any conclusions until all the facts have been established. Throughout the inquiry, we have liaised closely with Tia’s family. We have kept them updated and provided support. Today’s pre-planned search was undertaken with their full co-operation. Our priority now is to establish the facts of the case.”
Chloe spotted Hazell in the Mini Market near to Cannon Hill Common, Morden, south London:
“…when she recognised him, as he asked her whether she had seen Tia.”
No. But the police had. Says Chloe:
“He was really crying. He was saying how much he misses Tia. He asked me if I knew her and I said I didn’t, and then he said ‘Can you help me find her?’ He was very drunk and slurring his words. He bought a bottle of vodka. He said: ‘If you find her will you tell her to come home?’”
She told her stepfather Nick Keeley. He knows Hazell socially. He called the police.
In the Mirror, we hear from shop owner Prasanna Jayakumar:
“He came in and was very drunk, swaying all over the place and saying, ‘I’m Tia’s grandad and I need to find her’. He was crying and hitting his head with his fists.”
The Mail says that after meeting Chloe, and buying a lighter and vodka off Mr Jayakumar, Hazell “entered the Sculpture hair salon on Cannon Hill Lane at around 5.30pm”. Bryoni Goodwin, 18, works in the salon. She says:
“He came into the salon and my boss dealt with him. He said ‘Have you seen Tia?’ He told us that he was her granddad and I did recognise him from the TV but at that stage I didn’t realise he was wanted. He said she was used to walking in the area as she went to school around here and that he was looking for her. He had tears in his eyes the whole time but we thought that was normal. We told him we hadn’t seen her and then he walked out with tears in his eyes.”
Police arrested Hazell on Cannon Hill Common after 8pm “in woodland near allotments.”
Lastly, we look at the Express’s report is compiled by John Twomey and Anil Dawar, the later being the only hack to spot a scent of death dog entering Hazell’s home when the hunt for Tia was at its height. Today, Dawar presents more speculation as fact:
The cause of death may be more difficult to establish and signs of injuries to Tia’s body may no longer be viable due to decomposition.
May. May. Such are the facts.