In Brief

Stuart Hazell to serve 38 year term for Tia Sharp's murder

Shouts of 'beast' as 37-year-old sentenced for killing a 'sparky girl who was full of life'

STUART HAZELL has been jailed for a minimum of 38 years for the murder of 12-year-old schoolgirl Tia Sharp.

The 37-year-old appeared "emotionless" today as the judge, Mr Justice Nicol, handed down a life sentence and said Hazell would spend at least 38 years in prison. The judge said he could not impose a whole life tariff as he was not sure Hazell's motivation was sexual or that it was pre-meditated.

But Mr Justice Nicol said there was no doubt that Hazell had had sexual contact "of some kind" with Tia. Although there was no pathological evidence to prove sexual assault, it could not be discounted completely. It is possible "shame and fear" prompted Hazell to kill the girl at her grandmother's house in Croydon, the judge said.

Tia was a "sparky girl who was full of life, but you took that life from her," Mr Justice Nicol told Hazell before sentencing him at the Old Bailey this morning. "All that lay ahead of her - a career, loves and family of her own - will now never be. And the loss of her has been devastating for her mother, her father and all her relatives and friends."

As Hazell was sentenced there were gasps, sobs and cries of "yes" from Tia's family, the Daily Mirror reports. There were also shouts of "beast" from the public gallery.

Hazell had denied murder, but changed his plea to guilty on the fifth day of his trial at the Old Bailey. Mr Justice Nicol noted today that Hazell's guilty plea "has come very late" and followed "a wholly fictitious account of Tia falling downstairs and breaking her neck."

Speaking outside the court, Tia's father, Steven Carter, said Hazell should be hanged for killing his daughter. "In my opinion [a prison sentence] will not be enough," he told reporters.

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