In Brief

Stuart Hazell pleads guilty to murdering Tia Sharp

Gasps in courtroom as 37-year-old changes plea and confesses to murder of schoolgirl found in attic

STUART HAZELL, the man accused of murdering 12-year-old schoolgirl Tia Sharp, changed his plea to guilty today on the fifth day of his trial at the Old Bailey.

The 37-year-old's "dramatic admission of guilt" provoked gasps from the public gallery and caused Sharp's father, Steve Carter, to break down in tears, reports the Daily Telegraph. Hazell hung his head in the dock as jurors were asked to formally find him guilty. As he was led away to the cells to await sentence, there were shouts of 'chicken' from the gallery.

During the first four days of the trial, graphic evidence from the crime scene had been shown to the court, as prosecutors tried to establish that Hazell had a "sexual attraction" to the dead schoolgirl. His barrister said today his client wanted to make it known that "Tia's family have suffered enough and he did not want to put them through any further stages of this trial or this process".

Tia was last seen on 3 August last year at the house Hazell shared with Christine Sharp, his former partner and Tia's grandmother. The girl's body was found in the loft of the house - which is in New Addington on the outskirts of south London - a week later.

Hazell initially said the 12-year-old had died in an accident and he had hidden her body in a "panic".

At his trial, jurors heard that two memory cards were found hidden in the house in New Addington. The devices contained "extensive pornography" featuring young girls.

Jurors were also read a letter written by Hazell to his father from prison. It was headed with the words "forgive me" and included the admission he had made "one mistake" and his "whole world collapsed", the BBC reports. The letter continued: "What happened I will explain in time, but put it this way, it was an accident and I panicked".

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