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2000: Murdered schoolgirl's life celebrated

The family of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne has been joined by friends and hundreds of members of the public for a memorial service.

Sara and Michael Payne arrived at Guildford Cathedral with their children, Lee, Luke and Charlotte, to hear friends and family give readings and sing Sarah's favourite hymns.

Sarah's naked body was found dumped in a field in West Sussex in July more than two weeks after she disappeared from fields near her grandparents' home in East Preston.

The family insisted the service should be open to the public after the massive national outrage to the eight year old's murder in West Sussex last month.

Officers from Sussex Police also attended the service at the cathedral.

They included the man leading the murder hunt, Detective Superintendent Peter Kennet.


"Our little Sarah has gone from us, but she will live in our hearts forever"

Fiona Crook, Sarah's aunt

Sarah's uncle, Keith Payne, read a poem about his niece, describing "her warmth, her charm, her indomitable spark".

Her aunt Fiona Crook recalled when Sarah was her bridesmaid.

She said: "Our little Sarah has gone from us, but she will live in our hearts forever and will always be remembered as `Sarah, our little princess'."

After the service, Sarah's parents released 12 white doves outside the cathedral.

Mr Payne, 31, said: "I can't think of words to say. It was fantastic and a lovely turnout."

Members of the public wept as they formed a queue to offer their condolences.

A private funeral service is expected to be held for Sarah after her body is released by the West Sussex coroner.

In Context
After Sarah's murder a tabloid newspaper began a controversial "name and shame" campaign in which the names and locations of 200 paedophiles were published.

Mr and Mrs Payne also lobbied the government for tougher laws to clamp down on sex offenders.

But they urged the public to stop the outbreaks of vigilante violence which followed the newspaper's campaign.

In December 2001 Roy Whiting, 41, from Littlehampton, West Sussex was found guilty of Sarah's murder and jailed for life.

After the trial it was revealed that Whiting was already a convicted paedophile and on the Sex Offenders register before he killed Sarah Payne.


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