As you have probably heard on the news, the police have confirmed that the body they discovered at Tia’s grandmother’s house last Friday has been formally identified as Tia’s.
Stuart Hazell, the partner of Tia’s grandmother, was arrested by police on suspicion of murder on Friday evening and was charged with murder on Sunday. He appeared in court on Tuesday and Wednesday and has been remanded in custody until a plea and case management hearing on 19th November. The provisional start date for his trial is 21st January.
There were two other arrests on Friday. Tia’s grandmother, Christine Bicknall, was arrested on suspicion of murder and her neighbour, Paul Meehan, was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender. Both have been bailed pending further enquiries and relocated out of the area.
I appreciate that there is some frustration, particularly among those who gave up some of their spare time to help out with the search, that it took so long to find Tia’s body. The police carried out four searches of varying degrees of Tia’s grandmother’s house. The first was an initial visit to examine the property. The second, carried out on Sunday 5th August, was a full search, including of the location where a body was discovered five days later on Friday 10th August. This should have discovered the body and the police have apologised to Tia’s mother in person and to the community at large that, as a result of human error, this didn’t happen.
I also appreciate that everyone, but particularly those in the immediate area whose own children may have come into contact with one or more of the suspects, wants quick answers about who was responsible. It is however very important that no-one is tempted to take matters into their own hands. We must allow the police to continue with their investigations so that those responsible for this appalling crime are brought to justice. The police cordon around 15-21 The Lindens is likely to remain in place for some time so that the police can conduct an extremely thorough forensic search of numbers 20 and 21. I have called on the families at numbers 15-19 to check that they are ok but if there is anyone in the area who has any concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Croydon Council has put together a support package for those in the area emotionally affected by what has happened. Support is available weekdays from 10am to 12.30pm and 1pm to 3.30pm at the Family Centre and Goldcrest.
The police will continue to maintain a high level of reassurance patrols in the area for the immediate future.