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Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 15:01 GMT
Sarah accused blames 'coincidence'
Sarah Payne
Sarah disappeared near her grandparents' house
The man accused of murdering schoolgirl Sarah Payne has said it was just coincidence that 20 fibres were found linking him to her.

Roy Whiting, 42, told Lewes Crown Court a nine-inch blonde hair on a sweatshirt of his could also have found its way there by coincidence.

Mr Whiting, formerly of St Augustine Road, Littlehampton, West Sussex, denies the charges against him.


You were the man who kidnapped... and killed that child and you were the man who buried her body

Timothy Langdale, prosecuting
Timothy Langdale QC, prosecuting, questioned the likelihood of Mr Whiting being the "unfortunate victim of an extraordinary accident".

He questioned how it was possible Sarah's hair could have become "dislodged from an exhibit package taken from her home, somehow got on the bag within which your red sweatshirt was, and somehow attaches itself to your red sweatshirt, where it is found.

"The alternative is that barring that extraordinary accident it can only mean one thing.

"You were the man who kidnapped, you were the man who killed that child and you were the man who buried her body.

"That is the only other alternative is it not?"

Mr Whiting, who was testifying for the second day, replied: "It was not me."

Roy Whiting
Roy Whiting said work might have caused scratches on his body
Mr Langdale questioned whether it could be coincidence that fibres from a clown-patterned curtain and from the same red sweatshirt were later found on Sarah's black shoe.

He also asked how fibres from the sweatshirt, the driver's and passenger seat covers from Mr Whiting's van, and from a pair of socks also from the van, were found on clumps of Sarah's hair at the burial site.

Mr Whiting said: "It could be coincidence.

"We don't know, in the eight to 12 weeks she had those shoes, what fibres she might have picked up, or what fibres she picked up on her clothes before coming down to Kingston Gorse."

Shallow grave

Eight-year-old Sarah disappeared from a country lane near her grandparents' home in Kingston Gorse, West Sussex, on 1 July last year.

Her naked body was found in a shallow grave near Pulborough, West Sussex, 16 days later.

Earlier Mr Whiting again denied altering his scruffy appearance the day after she disappeared.

He was asked why he failed to ask a police officer, who visited him in his flat prior to his arrest, what had happened to Sarah.

Second arrest

Mr Whiting said: "I did not want to talk to a police officer."

Mr Whiting admitted that when he was arrested for the second time he "should have told" police what he had been doing on the day Sarah disappeared.

He was questioned for four-and-a-half hours over 31 July and 1 August last year but replied "no comment" to nearly all the questions put to him by detectives.

Mr Langdale asked Mr Whiting: "This little girl's body had been discovered.

"Wasn't this the time to help the police and at the very least eliminate you?"

Solicitor's advice

Mr Whiting replied: "I should have, yes."

He insisted that he was merely following his solicitor's advice to answer "no comment" to the questions.

He was also asked if three scratches found on his chest and arms had anything to do with Sarah being in the back of his van.

He replied: "I would not have noticed it. I possibly got it when I was working on my van, working on the oil switch."

The jury was later told by Mr Justice Curtis that all the evidence in the case had been heard.

The jury retired while legal argument was heard.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
reports from Lewes Crown Court
Full coverage of the trial

The verdict

Catching a murderer

Protecting children

TALKING POINT

AUDIO VIDEO
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