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The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"The public desire to find her shows no signs of diminishing"
 real 28k

Asst Chief Con Nigel Yeo
"I would encourage people to focus back on the photographs of Sarah"
 real 28k

Thursday, 13 July, 2000, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
Sarah prompts 12,000 callers
Sussex Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Yeo
Nigel Yeo: Massive response to release of e-fit
Police searching for missing girl Sarah Payne have received up to 12,000 calls since releasing an e-fit picture of a man they want to question.

Sarah went missing from near her grandparents' home at Kingston Gorse, near Worthing, West Sussex, on 1 July.

The image was issued after the man was seen with a girl fitting Sarah's description at a service station in Knutsford, Cheshire.



I have never seen a public response like it

Nigel Yeo

But a further potential sighting of Sarah, eight, at a Shell garage in Scotland has been ruled out.

After studying CCTV footage taken at the garage on the A80 in Cumbernauld, police confirmed it did not show Sarah.

The tape was shown to Sarah's parents, Michael and Sara, who said it definitely was not their daughter.

Chief Inspector Mike Alderson, spokesman for the inquiry team, said Mr and Mrs Payne had reacted with a mixture of "hope and disappointment" after seeing the film.

Released without charge

In another development, a man arrested on Merseyside has been released without charge.

Police took the registered sex offender from his home in Wirral early on Wednesday in what they described as a "routine" arrest.

Detectives travelled from Sussex to interview him but would not confirm whether the man has been eliminated from their inquiries.
The e-fit
E-fit of man seen in Knutsford
Police in Littlehampton received 3,200 calls on Wednesday alone following the release of the e-fit picture.

The investigation is understood to be the biggest missing persons inquiry ever undertaken by Sussex Police.

The operation is costing the force about 20,000 per day adding up to a total cost of almost 250,000.

White van

Sussex Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Yeo praised the public for the huge response to the case.

"I have never seen a public response like it," he said.

Mr Yeo urged members of the public to focus on the photographs of Sarah.
Helpline numbers
Sussex Police: 08456070999
National Missing Persons Helpline: 0500700700
Crimestoppers: 0800555111
"I encourage people to focus back on that and not to run away with the issues of the man in the e-fit," he said.

Mr Yeo said he was still desperate to trace the owner of a white van spotted in the area where Sarah disappeared by her brother Lee.

"That still remains a very significant unfinished piece of business," he said.

He also appealed to the man in the e-fit to contact the police.

"Obviously, as before, the fact that that hasn't yet happened leads one to draw inferences, but only inferences and not evidence," he said.

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