UK & World News
Tia Body Hunt: Met Police Apologise For Delay
Police investigating the disappearance of schoolgirl Tia Sharp have apologisedto her mother after admitting they should have found a body sooner, blaming 'human error'.
Human remains were discovered at Tia's grandmother's house in south London on the fourth examination of the property - one week after the 12-year-old was reported missing.
Metropolitan Police's South East London Area Commander Neil Basu said a full search of the house last Sunday, which included the area where the body was found five days later, should have been more thorough.
"An early review has been conducted and it is now clear that human error delayed the discovery of the body within the house," he said.
"We have apologised to Tia's mother that our procedures did not lead to the discovery of the body on this search."
The grandmother of Tia is one of three people arrested over her disappearance, according to Sky sources.
Christine Sharp, 46, was detained on Friday on suspicion of murder along with a man, aged 39, who was held on suspicion of assisting an offender. He is understood to be next-door neighbour Paul Meehan.
Those arrests followed Stuart Hazell - Christine Sharp's boyfriend - being taken into custody after police discovered a body at the home the pair share in New Addington, Croydon.
Hazell had been spotted on CCTV pictures shortly before his arrest on Friday evening.
The 37-year-old murder suspect walked into a shop in the south London borough of Merton, spoke to the shopkeeper and bought a small bottle of vodka and a cigarette lighter.
He then purchased the same items during a second visit shortly afterwards. Hazell was seen by an 11-year-old girl whose stepfather then called the police.
Hazell was detained in a public place - believed to be a park - in Merton, hours after officers launched a manhunt for the suspect and warned members of the public not to approach him.
Officers have not revealed exactly where the corpse was discovered, but officers were seen taking a ladder into the property on Friday afternoon, sparking rumours that it may have been in the loft.
A post-mortem on the body has been halted for the night, and no cause of death has yet been determined.
Tia, who was reported missing on Friday August 3, was last seen at the property. Hazell said he was the last person to see her.
Following his arrest, he was filmed by Sky News cameras being driven into Sutton police station in south London handcuffed to a police officer in the back of a car.
Sky's crime correspondent Martin Brunt said of Christine Sharp: "She was arrested at some stage last night (Friday) after the arrest of her boyfriend Stuart Hazell.
"Christine Sharp very often provided accommodation for Tia at weekends. She told us when we spoke to her on Monday that Tia used her home as a bit of a refuge.
"As far as last Friday is concerned (the day Tia vanished), Christine told us she was working overnight on Thursday night. She was doing a night shift and she wasn't in the house the next morning, on Friday morning, when Tia was last seen.
"The family story has been that Stuart Hazell was the only other person in the house when Tia vanished, telling him, according to him, that she was off on a shopping trip to Croydon."