Sarah Payne's alleged murderer changed his story twice when he was questioned by police investigating the disappearance of the eight-year-old, a police officer said on Thursday.
Lewes Crown Court was told that officers watched Roy Whiting's flat, in Littlehampton, West Sussex, because he had seemed "evasive" when asked where he had been the previous day, 1 July last year, when the schoolgirl had disappeared. He said he was at a fun fair.
The officers claimed that they then saw Mr Whiting emerge from his flat three times in less than two hours. On one occasion he appeared to remove something from his white van, the court was told.
On the third occasion, the police confronted him. But when asked what he had taken back to his flat it is alleged he gave three different answers.
Detective Sergeant Steven Wagstaff told the court that he asked Mr Whiting: "[Police officers] have seen you go over to your van and remove items. What were they?"
He claimed Mr Whiting replied: "Tools or a tool set." But when he told the defendant the items had appeared to be clothing, Mr Whiting then allegedly said: "Socks, it wasn't tools, it was socks." Mr Wagstaff told the court that when he repeated the question, Mr Whiting replied: "It was a shirt."
Mr Whiting, 42, is accused of kidnapping and murdering Sarah, from Hersham, Surrey. He denies the charges.
The trial continues today.