Neighbour of Croydon schoolgirl Tia Sharp accused of wasting police time


Paul Meehan said he ‘100%’ saw the schoolgirl when she was already dead.


By SWLondoner staff

A neighbour of the grandmother of Tia Sharp told police he had seen the Croydon schoolgirl when she was already dead, a court has heard this week.

Bus driver Paul Meehan, 40, is on trial at Croydon Magistrates’ Court where he denies wasting police time by making a ‘false report’.

The court heard that Mr Meehan initially told police he had not seen Tia on Friday August 3 last year, but later claimed he was ‘100% sure’ he watched her walk past his home at about noon that day.

A police officer told the court that Mr Meehan’s statement to police caused a 24-hour delay in Hazell being interviewed.

Jocelyn Ledward, prosecuting, said that he described her outfit and person in detail, which confirmed Stuart Hazell’s account of her having walked out of the door at that time.

She added that there was ‘absolutely no suggestion’ Mr Meehan was in league with Stuart Hazell, but that his statement had led to labour intensive interviews.

“These were a waste of valuable police resources at a crucial time,” she said.

The court was read a statement given to police by Mr Meehan, in which he claimed he saw Tia walk towards a bus stop while he was in his front garden.

“From the time I saw Tia I didn’t take my eyes off her,” he told detectives.

Mr Meehan insisted ‘nobody has forced me’ to make the police statement, saying: “I have made it under my own free will.”

After his arrest, Mr Meehan told police: “I definitely saw her leave the house. Whether she came back I don’t know.”

Dr Ian Anderson, a psychologist giving evidence for the defence, told the court Mr Meehan’s belief he saw Tia could be a case of confabulation, which is having a false memory.

But consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Andrew Johns, called by the prosecution, said: “I conclude it is more likely than not that he knowingly gave false statements to the police.”

Tia’s mother, Natalie, sat in the public gallery of the court during the hearing.

District Judge Karen Hammond adjourned the trial until next Monday.

Photo courtesy of ITN, with thanks.

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