Although the murders of underage girls - and boys - are fortunately rare, when they do occur they cause both great distress and public outrage. April Jones
was playing in the street with some friends last October; then she was gone. The body of Tia Sharp
was found in the loft of her grandmother's house in August several days after she went missing.
Although both were underage girls, the two cases could not be more disparate, but there does appear to be one common thread: in both cases it is claimed that the accused had recently viewed child pornography.
The man accused of the murder of Tia Sharp is Stuart Hazell, the former live-in lover of her grandmother. He is currently standing trial at the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, which is arguably the most famous such court in the world, and where the likes of Levi Bellfield
have stood trial.
The police came in for severe criticism in this case because they found Tia's body in the loft only on the fourth search of the house where she died.
Stuart Hazell pleaded not guilty to murder on March 8
, and his trial opened this week with Andrew Edis QC outlining the prosecution case
during which jurors were shown an image of a naked child lying on a bed. There appeared to be blood on the bed linen, and although the girl's face cannot be seen, the claim is that this was Tia shortly after she was murdered by Hazell.
The police have also released CCTV of Tia's last movements
when she was seen shopping with Hazell, and of her riding with him on a bus, apparently comfortable in his presence.
At the time of Tia's disappearance, Hazell claimed she had left the house to go shopping. Today, the court heard that he had made two mutually exclusive statements
to two prison officers within hours of each other.
He is alleged to have told senior prison officer Gerald King that Tia had fallen down the stairs and broken her neck, while earlier he had allegedly told another officer that Tia had probably been murdered by a neighbour who somehow managed to place her body in the loft. The pathologist who examined the girl's decomposed body said she did not suffer a broken neck, and although it was difficult to determine the cause of death, she was probably killed by some sort of compression.
Over in Wales at Mold Crown Court, the jury heard from a girl of ten who said the accused, Mark Bridger, had asked her
if she wanted to go on a sleepover with his daughter. The girl said she thought this was a bit odd, and after their conversation, Bridger left. April's body has not been found, although blood and fragments of bone are alleged to have been found at Bridger's home.
Both murder trials will continue tomorrow.