Schoolgirl Tia Sharp "idolised" the man accused of murdering her, a court heard today.
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 schoolgirl.
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, is charged with killing the schoolgirl between August 2 and 10 last year.
He denies the charge.
In an in-depth interview with ITV's Tonight, Tia Sharp's mother and grandmother tell their harrowing story and speak openly about their loss
The mother of murdered schoolgirl Tia Sharp has said the man responsible for her death "deserves to suffer".
Stuart Hazell, 37, changed his plea to guilty in the murder trial of schoolgirl Tia Sharp claiming her 'family have suffered enough'.