Schoolgirl Tia Sharp "idolised" the man accused of murdering her and was "his cling-on", a court has heard.
Jurors at the Old Bailey were read a statement by Tia's grandmother, Christine Bicknell, whose former boyfriend, Stuart Hazell, is accused of murdering the 12-year-old.
She said: "When Tia went missing it didn't cross my mind that she could be dead.
"I always thought she was coming home. It didn't cross my mind that he would hurt her. He loved Tia, she idolised him.
"I love Stuart with all my heart, he was my world, but my grandchildren always came first."
Tia would frequently stay at her grandmother's house in New Addington, south London, and would ask Hazell if she could stay before she asked Ms Bicknell, the court heard.
In the statement, read by junior prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward, she said: "Tia will ask Stuart if she can stay for the weekend before she asks me.
"The majority of the time he has her more than what I do. She is his cling-on."
Hazell, 37, of New Addington, is charged with killing the schoolgirl between August 2 and 10 last year.
Her body was found in the loft of her grandmother's house in New Addington a week after she went missing.
Ms Bicknell said all her grandchildren "loved him to pieces".
She said she had thought back over her relationship and had not noticed any particular changes, nor had any worries about Hazell being around Tia.
Her statement said Hazell was not somebody she "dragged in from the street", but had had a relationship with him for five and a half years.
"Tia was not the sort of girl you could groom," she said. "She was a mouthy 12-year-old - you couldn't force her to do anything.
"She is a mini Natalie (Tia's mother), which is a mini-me."
She added: "I knew nothing about her death. If I knew, he could be dead - I would be inside because I would have killed him.
"I found out the same time as everybody else, that Friday. I didn't know anything."