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The BBC's Steve Kingstone
"Sarah's family can only wait and fear the worst"
 real 28k

Assist.Chief Constable Nigel Yeo
"We've found a body and we've gone to the extent of telling the family"
 real 28k

Monday, 17 July, 2000, 21:21 GMT 22:21 UK
Police find body in Sarah search
Sarah Payne pic
Police released the most recent picture of Sarah Payne
Police searching for the missing eight-year-old Sarah Payne have found a body about 10 miles from where she went missing.

But they say it may be several days before they can identify the body of a young girl found at Pulborough, West Sussex.

The body, which was lying face down and was partially covered, was discovered just off the A29 at around midday on Monday by a young man who worked nearby.

What we have down the road represents a human tragedy whoever it is

Nigel Yeo
When Sarah disappeared earlier this month, police launched one of the largest investigations seen in the UK in recent years, backed by numerous appeals through the media.

Police, who are carrying out a finger-tip search of the area where the body was found, say they will continue to treat Sarah's disappearance as a missing persons inquiry.

The body is understood to have been taken to a mortuary at Worthing Hospital where a post-mortem examination will take place in the next few days.

Assistant Chief Constable of Sussex police Nigel Yeo said while it was not yet possible to identify the body, the discovery was sufficient to justify the police telling the Payne family.

Family trauma

He said there was a lot of sadness among his officers.

"What we have down the road represents a human tragedy whoever it is," Mr Yeo said.

He said he was not aware of any other missing females in the area.

He appealed to anyone who had any information regarding the area on the A29, possibly involving a white van.

Mr Yeo said the Payne family were being helped through the latest development by special officers.

The body of a young girl was found at Pulborough
"Even if there is no connection with the discovery, the sheer circumstances represent another trauma for the family, who have had their fair share of traumas," Mr Yeo said.

The body was found to the west of the "corridor" north from Worthing along the A24, past Horsham and Crawley towards the M25 and London, where police had been concentrating their search efforts.

Sarah went missing from near her grandparents' home at Kingston Gorse, near Worthing, West Sussex, on 1 July - 16 days ago.

Picture released

Police had a massive response from the public in their search for Sarah, taking more than 21,000 calls.

They believed Sarah was abducted after she left her two brothers and sister who had been playing in a field just a mile from the coast.

One of the police's strongest leads during their search for Sarah was a possible sighting of her with a man at Knutsford service station in Cheshire.

Sarah's parents held daily press conferences to appeal for information about their daughter's disappearance.

police tent
A tent covers the spot where the body was found
But the strain was taking its toll on the family and on Monday they had decided to take a back seat.

Police had earlier released a new picture of Sarah - the most recent one taken of her - which was donated by friends of the family.

Sussex police said they had received a crucial piece of information at the weekend regarding the white van they are trying to trace.

A white van was seen by Sarah's brother Lee in the area where she disappeared.

The new information was given by a person who had been on holiday and only just returned from abroad.

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