Sarah Payne PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 20 November 2008 12:30

Sarah Evelyn Isobel Payne

Born: 13 October 1992, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England

Died: 1 July 2000, Unknown

Age: 7

Cause of death: Murdered by pedophile Roy Whiting (Pictured below.)

Notable because: Murdered by a pedophile with previous form. Led to introduction of 'Sarahs law' similar to Megans law in the US, where details of sex offenders are published.

In July 2000 Sarah Evelyn Isobel Payne was murdered by car mechanic Roy William Whiting. The subsequent investigation became a high profile murder case in the United Kingdom. Following his conviction, Whiting was imprisoned and is currently being held in the maximum security Wakefield Prison, West Yorkshire.


Roy William Whiting was born in Horsham hospital in West Sussex on 26 January 1959. He was one of six children, of whom only he, an older brother and younger sister survived to adulthood. He grew up in Langley Green, Crawley. When he was a child, he was abused by a close relative. He attended Jordan's primary school, then Ifield secondary school. His mother left home with his sister in 1976, and remarried. In June 1986 he married Linda Booker in Ifield, West Sussex. They separated; their son was born in Crawley hospital in July 1987; they divorced in 1990.

Whiting was involved in banger racing during the late 1980s, but abandoned his interest in the sport due to a lack of success.

[edit] Whiting's first conviction

On 4 March 1995, an eight-year-old girl (unnamed for legal reasons) was abducted and sexually assaulted in Langley Green. Whiting was arrested a few weeks later after a man who knew Whiting came forward after hearing that the abductor's car had been a red Ford Sierra, which matched the description of the car that Whiting had just sold.

Three months later, Whiting admitted charges of abduction and indecent assault, and was sentenced to four years in prison. The maximum sentence for the crime would have been life imprisonment; however, he received a lesser sentence because he had admitted to the crime at the earliest opportunity. A psychiatrist who assessed Whiting after his conviction said that he was likely to re-offend once he was released.[15][16]

Whiting was released from prison in November 1997, having served 2 years and 5 months of his 4-year sentence, and was one of the first people in Britain to go on the sex offenders' register. He had been forced to serve an extra five months in prison before being released on licence as penalty for refusing to undergo a sex offenders rehabilitation course.

Whiting moved 40 km (25 miles) away from Crawley to Littlehampton on the West Sussex coast, upon his release.

Sarah Payne disappeared on 1 July 2000 from a cornfield near the home of her paternal grandparents, Terence and Lesley Payne, in Kingston Gorse, West Sussex, England. Payne had been playing with her brothers and sister; aged between five and 13 at the time. A nationwide search commenced within 48 hours, and Payne's parents made television appeals for her safe return. On 2 July 2000, officers from Sussex Police visited Whiting making inquiries into Payne's disappearance.

On 17 July, a body was found in a field near Pulborough, some 24 km (15 miles) from Kingston Gorse where she had disappeared. The following day, forensic science tests confirmed that the body was Payne's, and Sussex Police began a murder investigation.[21]

Whiting was questioned about the disappearance of Payne, which had taken place about 8 km (5 miles) from Whiting's place of residence. Whiting was routinely questioned as he had been placed on the Sex Offenders Register. The officers left Whiting, but were suspicious of his lack of concern for Payne, something that some of the worst offenders had shown when questioned in connection with Payne's disappearance.[citation needed] When Whiting re-appeared soon after he attempted to drive away in his van, he was stopped by the police and arrested. Whiting spent two days in custody, but a lack of police evidence led to Whiting's release on bail. Although police had found a receipt for fuel from Buck Barn garage near Pulborough, which contradicted his alibi of being at a funfair in Hove at 5:30 p.m. and then returned to his flat by 9.30 p.m. on the night that Payne had disappeared, there was no other evidence to press charges.

When Whiting was released on bail, he went to live with his father in Crawley while his flat on Saint Augustine's Road was being searched by forensic investigators. No evidence was found in Whiting's flat to suggest that Payne had been at the flat.

Whiting was subsequently re-arrested on 31 July 2000. After Payne's body was discovered 5 km (3 miles) from Buck Barn service station where Whiting had bought fuel on the night of Payne's disappearance and Whiting's failure to confirm his alibi. Police still had a lack of evidence to press charges and Whiting was released on bail.

A few days following his second arrest, Whiting moved out of his father's house after a vigilante attack and went to live in a tent in woodland behind a housing estate in Crawley. Whiting's father moved out of the house afterwards, fearing for his own safety.

On 21 July 2000, Whiting stole a Vauxhall Nova and was pursued by police at speeds of up to 70 mph before crashing into a parked vehicle. Whiting was arrested on a charge of dangerous driving. Whiting was remanded in custody until 27 September 2000, when he admitted taking the car and driving dangerously and was jailed for 22 months.[

When Whiting began his jail term for the car theft and dangerous driving, detectives were able to carry out forensic tests on his 1988 Fiat Ducato van, which he had bought on 23 June 2000. On 6 February 2001, following a police enquiry, Whiting was charged with Payne's murder.

By 6 February 2001, Sussex Police had enough evidence to press charges against Whiting who appeared at Lewes Crown Court on charges of abduction and murder. Whiting pleaded not guilty to all charges and was remanded in custody, until 14 November 2001.

On 14 November 2001 at Lewes Crown Court, the jury heard from several witnesses. The key witnesses included Payne's oldest brother who had seen a 'scruffy-looking man with yellowish teeth' drive by. Whiting had not been selected in an identity parade. One of Payne's shoes was found by a member of the public in a country lane and forensic tests had found fibres from Whiting's van on the shoe. This was the only item of Payne's clothing to be recovered. A strand of blonde hair on a T-shirt was found in Whiting's van. DNA test established there was a one-in-a-billion chance of it belonging to anyone other than Payne.[26]

On 12 December 2001, after a four week trial, Whiting was convicted of the abduction and murder of Payne and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. The trial judge recommended a whole life tariff.[27]

After Whiting was convicted his previous convictions were revealed. There were renewed calls for the government to allow controlled public access to the sex offender's register, although the Home Office commented the day after Whiting's conviction that such a system would be unworkable and run the risk of driving paedophiles "underground" as well as putting them in danger of vigilante attacks.

This case is particularly notable for the extensive use of forensic sciences in establishing the prosecution case against Whiting. Twenty forensic experts from a variety of fields were employed during the inquiry, including entomology, pathology, geology, archaeology, environmental profiling and oil/lubricant analysis. It has been estimated that the cost of the investigation involved one thousand personnel and cost more than £2 million.

On 4 August 2002, Whiting was attacked with a razor by another prisoner while fetching hot water at Wakefield Prison. Convicted killer Rickie Tregaskis (serving life imprisonment with a 20-year recommended minimum for the 1999 murder of a disabled man in Cornwall) was found guilty of carrying out the slashing which left Whiting with a six-inch scar on his right cheek.

In June 2004, Tregaskis received a six-year sentence (to run concurrently alongside his life sentence) after being found guilty on a wounding charge relating to the attack on Roy Whiting. This will not mean that he will have to serve any extra time in prison if the Parole Board decides that he can be freed on life licence.

On 24 November 2002, Home Secretary David Blunkett made a landmark ruling, ordering that Roy Whiting must serve a minimum of 50 years in prison. This would make him ineligible for parole until 2051, when he would be 92 years old.

Within 48 hours of the ruling being made, the European Court of Human Rights had ruled in favour of another convicted murderer (Anthony Anderson) who was challenging the right of politicians to decide how long a murderer must spend in prison before being considered for parole.

In June 2004, it was confirmed that Whiting would be applying to the Court of Appeal for a new minimum term to be set.

On 9 June 2010, Whiting's appeal resulted in his 50-year jail term being reduced by 10 years by a High Court judge. He is now serving a 40-year minimum term which is set to keep him in prison until at least 2041 and at the age of 82. Payne's mother, Sara, was present and said she was "disappointed" by the decision and "life should mean life".

Sarah's Law was a campaign spearheaded by the News of the World newspaper, which began in July 2000 in response to the murder of Sarah Payne. Payne's parents backed up the campaign as they were sure that a child sex offender had been responsible for their daughter's death. Their belief was proved correct 17 months later when Roy Whiting was found guilty of killing Payne, and it was revealed that he already had a conviction for abducting and indecently assaulting an eight-year-old girl.

The aim of the campaign was for the government to allow controlled access to the Sex Offenders Register, so parents with young children could know if a child sex-offender was living in their area. Sarah Payne's mother has always insisted that such a law would have saved her daughter's (Sarah's) life.

The concept of Sarah's Law is similar to Megan's Law, which operates in the USA in honour of murder victim Megan Kanka, who was raped and murdered by her neighbour Jesse Timmendequas in 1994. After the killer's trial, it was revealed that he was a convicted child rapist. Megan's Law even shows photographs and addresses of sex offenders. Sarah's Law would give lesser details, probably only the knowledge that a child sex offender was living in a 

There has been considerable debate over the effectiveness of Megan's Law and therefore, by implication, Sarah's Law. Issues raised have included:

  • The increased stereotyping of those on the sex offenders register. This may lead to a reduction in the ability of offenders to find housing and employment, thus leading to their being ostracised and therefore being more likely to reoffend.
  • The lack of "finesse" of American definitions of "sex offender". In the USA, this has led to those being convicted of urinating in a public place (which is classified as "indecent exposure") as sex offenders, and being placed on the register with those convicted of more serious offences such as rape and child molestation. Many other minor offenses which do not involve a child victim such as streaking, mooning, having sex and/or masturbating in vehicle have also resulted in many people being placed on the registry in the USA.
  • The increased risk of sex offenders avoiding registration with offender management services. In the USA, this figure stands at around 80%, compared with 97% in the UK. it has been suggested that the risk of harm mentioned above deters offenders from registering.
  • The nature of offending is seriously mis-represented by "Sarah's Law". Research suggests that reoffending rates over a six year period run at around 8.5%. Thus, it may be suggested that reoffending is not the problem that is suggested by some commentators such as former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley who claimed a 90% recidivism rate.
  • Relationships of offenders to victims. In terms of rape, 83% of attackers are known to their victims and 54% are partners or former partners. These statistics suggest that "stranger danger" has been exaggerated.

Payne's mother, Sara Payne, has subsequently written a book, Sara Payne: A Mother's Story, about her daughter's murder and the aftermath, including her campaign for Sarah's Law. The book was published in 2004.

In July 2001, it was reported that Payne's parents received £11,000 compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. The offer was described as a "sick joke" and "derisory", even though it was the maximum CICA could offer by law.

Sara Payne was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in December 2008 for her work behind Sarah's Law.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 June 2010 09:27

Add comment

Security code

Who's Online

We have 70 guests online