Search for girl yields body in London
POLICE SEEKING the partner of 12-year-old Tia Sharp’s grandmother, last night said that he had been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Earlier last night a manhunt had been launched for Stuart Hazell after police searching for the girl, who had been missing for a week, found a body at the house where she was last seen alive.
Stuart Hazell (37) was arrested in a public place at 8.25pm in the south London borough of Merton after he was identified by a member of the public, a Scotland Yard spokesman said.
“He is currently in custody at a South London police station,” he added.
Stuart Hazell gave a TV interview at the house yesterday in which he denied harming Tia and appealed for her to come home.
The body was found at the home Mr Hazell shared with Tia’s grandmother Christine Sharp on the New Addington estate near Croydon, south London.
Mr Hazell, who was interviewed by police as a witness on Wednesday but then released, claimed Tia set off for the Whitgift Centre in Croydon last Friday to buy flip-flops, having spent Thursday night alone with him while her grandmother was at work.
In an interview with ITV News on Thursday, Mr Hazell issued a plea to Tia to come home. Referring to the finger being pointed at him, he said: “Well, if they believe what they read in the papers, they can believe whatever they like because I know deep down in my heart that Tia walked out of my house, she walked out of there.”
Mr Hazell reportedly has a criminal record, including offences of theft, handling stolen goods and dealing drugs. Asked about his past, he said: “Everyone’s got a shady past. My previous has nothing to do with it.” He also dismissed claims that his father contradicted his version of events.
His father Keith claimed earlier that his son had walked her to the tram stop. Mr Hazell said: “My dad likes a drink, he’s got good intentions but he said everything back to front.”
Mrs Sharp, who left her home with police shortly before yesterday’s search began, said her boyfriend was out helping in the hunt for Tia: “We’ve all done our own little separate bit and Stuart’s out doing that now.” Asked what he was doing, she said: “I don’t know, I don’t know where he is.
“Whatever way he is, he has had it hard. He knows the finger has been pointed at him. He knows this and it’s been really hard for him.” After she left, a cordon was placed around the house on The Lindens and forensics officers were seen going inside.
Between 80 and 100 officers had been involved in searches for Tia, including in woodland near the house. But the house was not fully searched until yesterday.