'Strong DNA link' in Payne case, court told

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A forensic scientist who worked on the Sarah Payne murder case for more than 16 months told a jury yesterday there was an "extremely strong" link between the eight- year-old girl and the van of her alleged killer.

Raymond Chapman yesterday detailed meticulous examinations that led to the discovery of a match between fibres found in a clump of Sarah Payne's hair at the spot where her body was dumped and her suspected murderer's clothing.

Mr Chapman's research findings included details of the blonde hair belonging to Sarah that was found on a red sweatshirt worn by Roy Whiting and seized from his van by police, Lewes Crown Court heard. Forensic tests showed there was a one in a billion chance it was not hers.

The court has heard from one of Sarah's brothers, Lee, then aged 13, who saw a man in a checked shirt speeding off in a white van from the lane next to a field in East Preston, West Sussex, where she disappeared on 1 July last year.

Her partially buried body was found 16 days later in a field by the side of the A21 near Pulborough, West Sussex.

Mr Whiting, 42, of Littlehampton, West Sussex, denies kidnap and murder. The case continues.