London

Tia Sharp: Murder 'shattered family's hearts'

Stuart Hazell has admitted murdering 12-year-old Tia Sharp after initially denying killing the girl in Croydon, south London, last year.

The 37-year-old changed his plea at the Old Bailey on Monday, five days into the trial.

Tia was last seen on 3 August at the house of Hazell's partner, Tia's grandmother. Her body was found in her grandmother's loft a week later.

Here, Tia's mother and father speak of the impact of their daughter's death on their lives.

Tia's mother Natalie Sharp

Image caption Natalie Sharp (foreground) said Tia was close to her mother Christine Bicknell

"I grew up in a very close family. I had a special relationship with my Nan, my mum's mum. When I knew that I was expecting Tia, I was so happy that I would have something to love."

Mrs Sharp said she had quickly realised "the unique relationship I had with my Nanny would be repeated with Tia and my mum".

"When I was told Tia had gone missing I always believed that she would come back.

"At the very worst I thought I'd have to face the fact that someone had touched her and scared her and hurt her.

"I never really considered that she would be dead. How could I? Worse still was the false hope from the hoaxer who said they had her. I thought she was coming back.

"Since Tia was taken, I have lost my trust in everyone. It is too hard for me to believe that she is really gone. I try to think of her being on a sleepover at her friend's house.

"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.

"I breathe for my children. I fear anyone hurting my boys. I fear that if anyone touches my sons or does anything to them, what I might do, I am so scared and angry.

Image caption Stuart Hazell killed Tia and hid her body in the loft

"I have been so badly hurt by people I don't know and who know nothing of me.

"People have said the most terrible things about me as a mother and Tia's life. I can't understand how people who know nothing about somebody can send such awful messages."

"I've been stared at and physically attacked and I know people judge me when they see me buying something nice for my sons," said Mrs Sharp.

"My close family are closer still, but this has hurt them so badly. My brother is struggling to work, my mum was suspended from her job when Stuart was arrested.

"I've heard people saying Tia was mistreated and that she's lucky to be away from this world. My Tia wanted for nothing.

"Tia was my mum's life. She was as close to my mum as I'd been to my nan. We'd all lived together when Tia was a baby and she was my mum's 'mini-me'.

"Tia loved to be with my mum. Wherever my mum worked, Tia was taken there to meet everyone. I sometimes felt a little green-eyed about their relationship, but I could see it was like the relationship I'd had with my Nan - it was so unique and special."

She added: "I can't say what'll happen after the trial. It's my last hurdle. I haven't allowed myself to grieve yet, I need to finish this first.

"When the trial is done, everything is over for everyone else, but it won't be for us."

"I gave the ultimate trust to Stuart. I have so much I want to ask him.

"Sometimes I feel pity, but I want to hurt him - but I could never manage to hurt him like he hurt me. I want to meet him and I want him to answer my questions."

Tia's father Steven Carter

"The murder of my daughter Tia has shattered mine and my family's hearts. We will never get our heads around what has happened to Tia.

"My daughter Tia's life has been taken from us all, as we will never get the opportunity to share her 13th, 16th, 18th or 21st birthdays. We will never have the chance to see Tia walk down the aisle and get married and have children of her own. We have all lost someone special.

Image caption Her father Steven Carter was in court each day

"The love for Tia will always be with us, our memories of Tia smiling and playing will never be forgotten.

"My last memory of Tia is her jumping into my arms, giving me a kiss and her telling me she loved me. I will never get this opportunity again, but it is one of the many memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.

"All my family and friends have their special memories, the community of New Addington have lost someone special and they themselves will never forget Tia.

"Myself and those of my family with children will never be the same as we have all stopped our children's freedom to go out and play as we fear of something happening.

"Myself, my partner, my son and members of my family are suffering from post-traumatic stress. This has caused me to lose my temper quickly, have sleepless nights, cold sweats and generally be unhappy."

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