Tia Sharp murder accused Stuart Hazell 'not like Ian Huntley'

Image caption,
Prison officer Paul Leahy said Stuart Hazell told him he believed his neighbours had put Tia's body in the loft

The man accused of murdering schoolgirl Tia Sharp told prison officers he did not want to be seen as "an Ian Huntley", a court has heard.

Stuart Hazell allegedly told prison officers at Belmarsh he was not like the killer of schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

Mr Hazell, 37, said Tia died from falling down stairs but a pathologist said she did not have neck injuries.

Mr Hazell, of New Addington, south London, denies Tia's murder.

'Feeling guilty'

Tia's body was found in the loft of the home he shared with Tia's grandmother Christine Bicknell, a week after she died.

It is alleged Mr Hazell sexually assaulted Tia before killing her and hiding her body.

The Old Bailey has heard evidence from four members of the staff at Belmarsh Prison, where Mr Hazell was taken last year.

Image caption,
The Old Bailey has heard about conversations Stuart Hazell had with prison staff members

Junior prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward read a statement from senior prison officer Gerald King, who said he was told by Mr Hazell that Tia had died in an accident.

The statement read: "He stated that he wanted to end it and take his life. He didn't want to be seen as an Ian Huntley.

"He added that it was an accident, that he had been playing with her at the top of the stairs as they always did.

"She fell down the stairs and broke her neck.

"He wished he could turn back time. He then laid her on the bed for a while, then wrapped her in a blanket and put her in the roof."

'Nothing sexual'

Mr King went on: "He wanted to make sure that people knew that it wasn't a sexual thing."

The court heard Mr Hazell also told prison officer Warren Fegan: "I'm not like Ian Huntley, it was nothing sexual, I'm not a nonce."

Mr Fegan said: "He was saying that the press was trying to make it look like it was sexual but it wasn't. He was saying that he loved his step children.

"He said that it was an accident, she had fallen down stairs and broken her neck."

But pathologist Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl told the jury a post-mortem examination found the child did not have any signs of injury including a broken or injured neck.

"Throughout my examinations I could find no evidence of injuries that would suggest an accidental cause of death such as a fall," he said.

He said because of the decomposition of the body the informed cause of death was unascertainable but taking into account the case as a whole, some kind of suffocation or chest compression was most likely.

Prison officer Paul Leahy told the court he recalled Mr Hazell telling him he believed neighbours could have moved Tia's body into the attic of the house he lived in, as the buildings had interlocking roof space.

The case continues.

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