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Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 16:46 GMT
Labourer found Sarah's body in field
The Paynes arrive on Tuesday
Michael and Sara Payne arrive at Lewes Crown Court

A farm labourer has told a court how he discovered the body of schoolgirl Sarah Payne in a field.

Luke Coleman was clearing ragwort from an isolated field near Pulborough, West Sussex, when he made the discovery, he said in a statement read to Lewes Crown Court.


I was shocked and dazed

Farm labourer Luke Coleman
Roy Whiting, 42, from Littlehampton, West Sussex, denies kidnapping and murdering Sarah in July last year.

The prosecution claims Mr Whiting snatched the eight-year-old from a lane in Kingston Gorse, West Sussex, on 1 July last year before murdering her and dumping her body in a shallow grave, where it was discovered 17 days later.

Click here for map of the area where Sarah vanished

Mr Coleman said that as he approached the area where Sarah's naked body lay, he "saw what I thought to be a dead deer".

"It was situated about seven feet away from the road.

Roy Whiting
Roy Whiting denies kidnapping and murdering Sarah Payne
"As I approached I could see it was not a deer but the body of a child.

"I was shocked and dazed and ran home and managed to get in contact with the police."

White van

The court heard earlier how Sarah's eldest brother Lee had delayed telling police about seeing a man grinning in a white van after his sister disappeared because he did not want to worry anyone.

Pc Paul Jeacock said Lee had made the revelation as he and his brother Luke retraced their sister's last known movements with him.

A motorist also told the jury she had seen a white van speeding away from the spot where Sarah Payne disappeared.

Cynthia Read said she saw a white van ignore a give-way sign and pull out from Kingston Lane "without hesitating".

She contacted police after a television reconstruction.

Mrs Read said: "I saw the van drive quite quickly. It then disappeared and I did not see it again.

"I can only say it was a white van. I saw it from the side view."

Mrs Read said she had been in a hurry but was sure it was 7.41pm because she was on her way to see her son.

The trial continues.

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The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"This trial has some way to go"
See also:

19 Nov 01 | England
16 Nov 01 | England
15 Nov 01 | England
18 May 01 | UK
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