Stuart Hazell’s trial for the murder of the girl who called him ‘granddad’ is set for 7 May 2013 at the Old Bailey in London.
Hazell, now 37, protests his innocence. Many of his family and friends stick by him as most of the country turns against him. Hazell writes to his dad. He lies to him as well saying the death was accidental. But his main concern is that his father doesn’t think his son is a ‘nonce’:
“...this is something that we see again and again in sex offenders. They will admit to the violent act, but they won’t admit to the sexual act.”
Dr. Keri Nixon, Forensic Psychologist
But the emotionless man that stands in court starts to make even those closest to him doubt his innocence:
“It wasn’t the person that I thought I’d known for ten years, the nice person that wouldn’t hurt anybody. That person standing in the dock was cold, horrible, black, dark, and stood there like he had done nothing wrong. Didn’t even look at me...He was just empty”
Natalie Sharp, Tia’s mother
Natalie is in court when the sexually posed photo of a girl, allegedly her dead daughter, is displayed:
“None of them strangers needed to see, they didn’t need to hear that...I think...of that image...the last thing...every night before I go to sleep.”
And then, after four gruelling days during which Tia’s family have been subjected to graphic and gruelling details that no one should have to hear about their loved one, Hazell changes his plea.
He accepts his guilt.
Some suspect that even this change of heart was from the basest of motives:
“...he had already put (the family) through all the medical and forensic evidence. I believe he changed his plea because he was a coward. It was the stage of the trial where he would have to go to the witness stand and give his account of what happened and, more importantly, be cross examined. He never had the courage to stand up and face those questions.”
Nick Scola, Det Ch Insp
After Hazell changed his plea, his own defence counsel described their client thus:
“This is a man who has an extraordinary capacity for living through lies.”
When sentencing Hazell the Judge stated Hazell had betrayed the trust of Tia’s family in the “most grievous way possible.”
Hazell ‘trembled’ as the judge told him:
“She was a sparky girl who was full of life. You took that life from her...All that lay ahead of her – a career, loves and family of her own – will now never be.”
Hazell is sentenced to a 38-year minimum prison sentence. He avoids a whole-life sentence because it wasn’t definite that the murder was sexually motivated;
“Shame and fear of what might happen if Tia talked are just two of the alternative possible motives behind her killing.”
One relative cries ‘beast’ as Hazell is led down to the cells.