NEWS
17/08/2012 08:01 BST

Tia Sharp Murder: Decomposition Meant Schoolgirl Had To Be Identified By Her Dental Records

Murdered schoolgirl Tia Sharp was "unrecognisable" when her body was discovered - and she had to be identified by her dental records, it has been revealed.

The 12-year-old's body was found in the loft of her grandmother's house last week.

Sources told The Sun the space had been "sweltering", which led to the poor condition of the body.

On Thursday a coroner opened an inquest into her death, where it was confirmed her body had now been formally identified - six days after she was found.

A post-mortem examination has failed to reveal how she died and further tests are to be carried out.

Tia's body was discovered at Christine Sharp's home in New Addington, south London, last Friday, more than a week after she was reported missing.

On Thursday, when asked by Coroner Roy Palmer if the body has now been formally identified, Detective Sergeant Eric Sword, of the Metropolitan Police's specialist crime operations unit based at Sutton, said: "From the checks that we have been able to carry out, yes."

"And that body is that of Tia Sharp?" the coroner asked.

"That is correct," he replied.

Stuart Hazell appeared at the Old Bailey on Thursday via video-link from Belmarsh prison

The inquest, at South London Coroner's Court in Croydon, was adjourned until a later date.

Hazell, 37, from New Addington, is charged with murdering the schoolgirl between August 2 and 11.

He appeared at the Old Bailey via video-link from Belmarsh prison in south east London on Wednesday, and was remanded in custody to appear for a plea and case management hearing at the same court on November 19.

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A provisional trial date was set for January 21 next year.

The Sun reports that relatives of the dead girl are angry that Hazell has been spared having to face the court in the flesh.

Angie Niles, whose son David is the partner of Tia's mother, told the newspaper: "We're having to put on this brave face but Hazell hasn't had to show his."

Meanwhile it has emerged Hazell's barrister is the QC who defended Princess Diana's former butler Paul Burrell. Lord Alex Carlisle's services normally cost £900 a day, but are available to Hazell through legal aid.

Hazell is the partner of Ms Sharp, 46, who was arrested on suspicion of murder but bailed on Sunday pending further inquiries.

Her next-door neighbour, Paul Meehan, 39, has been bailed on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Police only discovered Tia's body after several visits to the terraced property, and have apologised to her mother, Natalie Sharp, for the delay.

A serious case review has been launched into Tia's death by Merton Council, which has responsibility for Mitcham, south London, where Tia lived with her mother.

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