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Tia Sharp's body was kept in her grandmother's loft for eight days before being found last August - and was only found because of the smell. AP

Accused changes plea and admits murder of 12-year-old Tia Sharp

Stuart Hazell dramatically changed his plea on the fifth day of his trial at the Old Bailey in London.

A BRITISH MAN accused of murdering a 12-year-old girl has dramatically changed his plea during his trial – admitting he killed the girl.

Stuart Hazell’s admission came on the fifth day of his trial at the Old Bailey in London, where he stood accused of murdering Tia Sharp last year.

Counsel for Hazell, who had been dating Tia’s grandmother at the time, asked the trial judge if Hazell could re-enter his plea – and the Telegraph said there were audible gasps in the courtroom as Hazell admitted his guilt.

It quoted his barrister as saying Hazell’s decision to change his plea was intended to spare her family from having to deal with the rest of the trial.

“His decision to plead guilty is probably the bravest decision he’s ever made in his life,” the counsel said.

The 12-year-old was last seen alive on August 2 last year, but her body was only found on August 10 after a lengthy police search operation.

Her body was found in her grandmother’s loft in south-east London, carefully wrapped in a sheet and stuffed in a bin bag which was Sellotaped shut.

The body was only discovered on the third occasion that the loft was searched – and was noticed only because the smell of decomposition was beginning to escape the bag.

Prosecutors told the court that Hazell – who had previously served prison sentences for drugs offences – had a sexual attraction for the girl, and had probably sexually assaulted her before suffocating and killing her.

It also emerged during the trial that Hazell had covertly taken film footage of the girl as she slept and rubbed cream into her legs. Internet search records on his computer showed that he had searched for incest websites while the 12-year-old’s body was in the loft above his house.

Hazell will be sentenced tomorrow, though the minimum punishment is a life sentence.

Read: Police admit human error caused delay in hunt for Tia Sharp’s body

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