Forensic scientist backs findings in Sarah Payne trial

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The Independent Online

An independent forensic scientist told a court yesterday he had discovered extra evidence that linked Sarah Payne with her alleged killer's van.

Roger Robson told Lewes Crown Court his research highlighted a match between socks found in Roy Whiting's van and a fibre discovered among a clump of Sarah's hair at the spot where her body was dumped. He said his examinations, using the latest microscope technology, also backed up the findings of Raymond Chapman, from the Forensic Science Service, who said there was "extremely strong" evidence to indicate Sarah had been in the van.

The jury has heard that a number of clothing fibres and a single strand of Sarah's hair have been linked to items in the van allegedly used by Mr Whiting to snatch the eight-year-old before driving her more than 20 miles to dump her naked body.

Mr Robson, who works for the Oxfordshire-based Forensic Alliance, was called in to re-examine fibres analysed by Mr Chapman that came from Sarah's hair, one of her shoes and her bodybag. He told the court: "I came to the same conclusions that Mr Chapman found and I felt that I had found something that slightly improved the association."

He said the fibre he found was "particularly distinctive" with unusual markings.

During cross-examination, Mr Robson said it was not unusual for outside companies to be called in to check original scientific findings during a major police inquiry.

The court earlier heard how human hairs became stuck to the adhesive seals on the outer edge of bags used to store hair brushes taken as evidence. Sally O'Neill QC, defending Mr Whiting, said it could not be ruled out that one of the hairs could have been transferred to a red sweatshirt from Mr Whiting's van on which police found a single strand of Sarah's hair.

Mr Whiting, 42, of Littlehampton, West Sussex, is accused of snatching Sarah, of Hersham, Surrey. He denies murder and kidnap. The case continues next week.