During July 2000, eight-year-old Sarah Payne was engaging in hide and seek with her siblings in a cornfield close to her grandparents’ residence in West Sussex when Roy Whiting kidnapped her.
Whiting, a well-known s*xual offender, cruelly murdered Sarah and was eventually found guilty of her killing a year later.
On July 1, 2000, Sarah was playing hide and seek with her two brothers and younger sister when she dashed off towards a road. Waiting for her was Roy Whiting, who seized her in his white van.
Sarah’s brother Lee Payne recollected how Whiting gave him a malevolent grin and a wave as he drove off with Sarah in the back of his van.
Sarah’s vanishing led to an extensive search operation, but her body was not located until July 17, in a field near Pulborough, just three miles from where Whiting had purchased fuel.
Three days later, one of Sarah’s shoes was found in the nearby village of Coolham.
Roy Whiting: Who was He?
Whiting was a known s*xual assailant who had recently been jailed and placed on the S*x Offenders Register in 1995, following the abduction and repulsive assault of a nine-year-old girl.
Consequently, he was identified by the police and was one of the first individuals questioned just 24 hours after Sarah’s disappearance.
Whiting was born in the Langley Green neighborhood of Crawley, West Sussex, but was residing in Littlehampton at the time of Sarah’s demise.
During his time in Crawley, it is possible that he attended Ifield Community College.
The Inquiry and Verdict Against Whiting
During the initial inquiry, Whiting professed he had no knowledge about Sarah Payne’s disappearance when officers interrogated him the following day.
However, upon searching his apartment, they found a petrol receipt indicating he had been in Pulborough that day, although they were not aware of Sarah’s body at the time, so they did not understand the significance of the receipt.
Whiting was released without being charged. However, when Sarah’s body was discovered, Whiting emerged as the primary suspect.
On July 23, he took a Vauxhall Nova and led police on a high-speed chase, which concluded when he collided with another vehicle.
Although he was not arrested on suspicion of murder at that time, he was apprehended in connection with Sarah’s murder on July 31 after a single light hair was found on a shirt in his van. DNA tests indicated the hair likely belonged to Sarah.
Whiting was formally charged with the murder of Sarah Payne in February 2001 while in prison for a driving offense.
He pleaded not guilty to murder at Lewes Crown Court on February 6, 2001. The trial commenced on November 14, 2001, and lasted for four weeks.
Whiting was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The Influence of Sarah Payne
Following Whiting’s conviction, the true extent of his previous s*xual offenses became public knowledge, leading to widespread public outrage and a call for reform.
Sarah’s mother initiated an extensive campaign for Sarah’s Law, which would enable parents to request information about individuals who have contact with their child in order to ascertain if they have any child s*x offense convictions.
The News of the World endorsed the campaign, and in 2011, the Child S*x Offender Disclosure Scheme was implemented by police forces nationwide.
Sara Payne was honored with the MBE on December 31, 2008, for her efforts in safeguarding children.
Sarah’s father, Michael Payne, experienced severe depression after the loss of his daughter and jointly spearheaded the Sarah’s Law campaign with his wife when it was launched.
However, in 2003, the couple separated. Michael passed away in 2014 at the age of 45, but a post-mortem examination revealed he died of natural causes, so an inquest was not opened.
Where is Roy now?
Roy William Whiting was found guilty of murdering Sarah Payne in 2001.
The accused openly admitted to the charges against him and subsequently received a four-year prison term.
Despite initial concerns raised by a psychiatrist about the possibility of reoffending, Whiting was released from custody in 1997 after serving a total of two years and five months.
This release made him one of the earliest individuals in Britain to be officially registered as a sex offender.
In 2002, the Home Secretary imposed a minimum sentence of 50 years on Whiting, ensuring that he would remain incarcerated until 2051.
However, following his appeal in 2010, his minimum term was reduced to 40 years, making him eligible for parole consideration in 2041 when he reaches the age of 82.