The man accused of killing schoolgirl Tia Sharp has admitted her murder on the fifth day of his trial at the Old Bailey.

Stuart Hazell, 37, dramatically changed his plea and admitted murdering the 12-year-old in August last year.

Hazell hung his head in the dock as he changed his plea and jurors were asked to formally find him guilty. Tia's father, Steve Carter, broke down in tears as Hazell changed his plea.

Lord Carlile, representing Hazell, said his client wanted to make it known that "Tia's family have suffered enough and he did not want to put them through any further stages of this trial or this process".

Hazell, wearing a washed-out grey T-shirt, leaned forward as Lord Carlile asked for the charge to be put again. He clutched his hands in front of him and there was a slight pause when he was asked to plead. When he said "guilty", gasps from the public gallery rang around the oak-lined courtroom.

Hazell had previously denied murdering Tia, the granddaughter of his then-partner Christine Bicknell. He will be sentenced on Tuesday morning.

Last week, the court heard the window cleaner wrote to his father Keith Hazell from prison, insisting Tia's death had been an accident and he had hidden her body after he panicked.

The development came after four days of graphic evidence during which Tia's mother, Natalie Sharp, frequently had to leave the courtroom, visibly distressed. The prosecution case included a grotesque photograph of a girl alleged to be Tia after she died.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Tia's mother Natalie Sharp said: "I gave the ultimate trust to Stuart and there is so much that I want to ask him. Sometimes I feel pity, that I want to hurt him, but I can never hurt him like he has hurt me." She said Tia was her grandmother's "mini-me" and "her life".

The court heard that Hazell had a number of previous convictions. These included convictions for racially aggravated common assault in 2002, dealing cocaine in 2003 and possession of a machete in a public place in 2010, for which he was jailed for 12 months. He also had convictions for burglary and theft.