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Friday, 16 November, 2001, 13:08 GMT
Sarah's killer was 'on the prowl'
Sara and Michael Payne arrive at Lewes Crown Court
Sara and Michael Payne attended the court hearing
Sarah Payne's killer was "on the prowl" for children when he kidnapped the eight-year-old, a court has heard.

Timothy Langdale QC said Roy Whiting was the man who seized the opportunity to take Sarah and smiled and waved at her brother as he drove off with her in the back of his van.

He told a new jury at Lewes Crown Court: "There is compelling evidence that points directly to Roy Whiting, and Roy Whiting alone, as being the person responsible for kidnapping Sarah Payne and for killing her."

Mr Whiting, 42, from Littlehampton, West Sussex, denies kidnapping and murdering Sarah in July of last year.


As the driver passed Lee, he grinned or smiled at him and gave a wave of his hand

Timothy Langdale QC

Mr Langdale told the jury Sarah was snatched after a day out with her family near her grandparent's home in Kingston Gorse, West Sussex.

Sarah, her brothers Lee, 13, Luke, 11, and five-year-old sister, Charlotte, had separated from their parents and grandparents after a walk to the seaside, Mr Langdale said.

They went to play in a nearby corn field and were told to stay together and the boys asked to keep an eye on the girls.

But Mr Whiting struck when Sarah decided to walk home alone after banging her head and becoming upset, Mr Langdale said.

'Scruffy driver'

He added: "A person who was driving along and decided to snatch a child and take that child away does not suddenly decide to do so as it suddenly seems a good idea.

"Maybe you will conclude that anybody who does that, who is driving along, is somebody who has that in mind if the opportunity affords itself - somebody who is on the prowl in terms of a young child or children."

Mr Langdale said Luke had seen his sister leaving and told her to wait.

He went to tell Lee, who saw her slip through a gap in the hedge as he went after her.

Sarah Payne
Sarah Payne's body was found near Pulborough
Mr Langdale said: "It was the last time Lee saw Sarah and the last time anyone saw her alive, save of course the man who abducted her and killed her."

When Lee got to Kingston Lane, next to the field, he saw a white van driving off at high speed, the QC said.

"As the driver passed Lee, he grinned or smiled at him and gave a wave of his hand....Lee did not realise his sister was in the back of the van."

'Tired and distressed'

He was later able to provide police with a description of the van and its "scruffy" driver.

On Friday Sarah's parents, Sara and Michael Payne, arrived at court hand in hand, but looked tired and distressed. Her grandparents, Terry and Lesley, were also in court.

Sarah went missing on July 1 2000. Her body was found 17 days later close to the A29 road near Pulborough.

The new jury was sworn in on Thursday after the original panel was discharged because of "procedural irregularities".

The trial continues.

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The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"The trial has come to a halt"
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15 Nov 01 | England
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