A British man has been jailed for a minimum of 38 years after switching his plea to guilty in the murder of a 12-year-old girl.

Tia Sharp's disappearance last August drew headlines across Britain. The discovery of her body at her grandmother's house a week later was met with horror and disbelief — in part because police had already searched the premises three times.

Stuart Hazell, the grandmother's partner, was charged with murder. After repeatedly denying wrongdoing, he changed his plea to guilty Monday on the fifth day of the murder trial.

Judge Andrew Nicol said Tuesday that the 37-year-old could only be given "the most modest of credit" for changing his plea. He sentenced Hazell to a life term, with a minimum of 38 years in prison.