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The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"Forensic scientists are still examining one of her shoes"
 real 28k

Friday, 21 July, 2000, 18:54 GMT 19:54 UK
Farmer sues over search for Sarah
Police searching Sussex field
Police conducted extensive searches for Sarah
A West Sussex farmer seeking 10,000 in compensation for damage allegedly done to his crops during the police search for Sarah Payne has defended his actions.

Paul Langmead, of Roundstone Farm, said he was "entirely justified" as the alleged destruction of the wheatfields could not be ignored.

A police source, who visited the Payne family, said officers had reacted with disbelief to the claim.

I and my farm staff have been deeply distressed by the tragic disappearance and murder of Sarah

Paul Langmead
The damaged crops are in fields adjacent to Kingston Lane, near East Preston, West Sussex, where Sarah disappeared on 1 July after playing with her brothers and sister.

A written statement issued at Mr Langmead's Littlehampton farm said he would donate any money he received to the Sarah Payne fund.

"I am very upset that someone with Sussex police has seen fit to publicise the fact that I notified the police of damage to crops on my farm in the course of the search for Sarah Payne," the statement read.

Massive public response

"I and my farm staff have been deeply distressed by the tragic disappearance and murder of Sarah."

The statement said that Mr Langmead could not ignore the fact that many thousands of pounds of damage had been done to his crops during the course of the searches.

Mr Langmead passed on his condolences to the Payne family, including Sarah's grandparents who live 150 yards from the fields.

Roundstone Farm
Paul Langmead's Roundstone farm in West Sussex
More than 250 people joined 150 police officers to comb fields in the search for eight-year-old Sarah from Hersham in Surrey.

Sussex police have confirmed that a claim has been made for damage to crops.

But because of potential future action they will not discuss the details of the case, which is in the early stages of being processed.

Meanwhile, detectives investigating Sarah Payne's murder say they have received more than 30,000 calls from the public.

Floral tributes

They say a significant number are from people reporting that they have been the victims of sexual abuse.

Police are continuing a forensic examination of a shoe found near the village of Coolham in West Sussex, between three and four miles from Pulborough.

They believe the shoe belonged to Sarah and could provide vital evidence in the search for her killer.

Sarah Payne
Sarah Payne: Body was found on Monday
Flowers have been building up alongside the field where Sarah's body was discovered.

A steady stream of people have been paying their respects to Sarah.

The police have said they will leave the area free for more people to visit and lay floral tributes at the weekend.

The Payne family have asked the police that all the messages of support and toys that have been left alongside the A29 in Pulborough be sent to them once the flowers are removed.

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20 Jul 00 | UK
Police examine Sarah 'shoe'
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