Stuart Hazell, who is pleaded guilty to Tia Sharp's murder today, claimed in the days following her disappearance that he would never think of harming the girl who was "like my own daughter".
In an exclusive interview with criminologist Mark Williams-Thomas for ITV News, he described Tia as a "happy-go-lucky golden angel" and made an emotional appeal for her to come home.
Stuart Hazell, 37, changed his plea to guilty in the murder trial of schoolgirl Tia Sharp claiming her 'family have suffered enough'.Read the full story ›
Detective Chief Inspector Nick Scola apologised to Tia Sharp's family for the fact that police did not find her body in their first two searches of the house Stuart Hazell shared with her grandmother.
The senior investigating officer added that finding it earlier "would not have made any difference" to what happened afterwards, merely brought it forward.
The family would still have had to deal with Hazell's lies and his interest in child abuse and young girls, he said.
"The early searches were really just a look round, they were not deep searches," he added.
The father of murdered schoolgirl Tia Sharp told reporters that he does "not see today's events as justice for Tia, merely a legal conviction".
Steven Carter added that whatever conviction Stuart Hazell receives tomorrow will not be enough, and that he should "serve his time, then be hung".
Tia Sharp's father, Steven Carter, has said he is glad Stuart Hazell changed his plea to guilty, even though he had to sit through five days of evidence in court first.
This was an appalling and unthinkable crime, made worse by Hazell’s efforts to hide Tia’s body and disrupt the police investigation. As an adult and trusted family member, he had responsibility for ensuring Tia’s safety. Instead, he abused and murdered her.
As the details of this case unfolded in the trial, it became increasingly clear that Hazell had little choice but to plead guilty. This was strong case, jointly prepared by the CPS and the police, and I would like to pay tribute to the prosecution and police teams.
We recognise that this is an extremely distressing time for the family and I would like to pay tribute to them for their strength and fortitude throughout this case. I hope that this prosecution provides some small measure of comfort for them at this time.
Stuart Hazell will be sentenced at 10:30am on Tuesday for the murder of 12-year-old Tia Sharp.
The 37-year-old dramatically changed his plea to guilty earlier today, on the fifth day of his trial at the Old Bailey.
The court has been adjourned until tomorrow.
The conviction today of Stuart Hazell for the murder of 12-year-old Tia Sharp in August 2012 will, I hope, bring some closure for her family who have seen justice served. However, Hazell's conviction will never bring Tia back and her family will have to live with her loss for the rest of their lives.
Tia was murdered by a man who had gained the trust of Tia's family and who, on that day, was tasked with looking after her whilst her grandmother was at work. Hazell abused that position of trust by planning an assault on Tia that ultimately led to her murder.
The evidence was overwhelming and clearly Hazell realised he had no choice but to plead guilty. However, he put Tia's family through a week of heart-breaking evidence in court and I wish for their sakes he had admitted his guilt sooner.
Hazell is an extremely dangerous individual who poses a significant threat to young girls and it is only right that he should be imprisoned and removed from society so that he can no longer pose any risk.
I would like to pay tribute to Tia's family for showing such courage and stamina throughout this horrendous ordeal - from the time of the murder through to the conviction - and I truly hope they can move forward with their lives in the knowledge that Hazell will now pay for his crime.