Farmer ditches Sarah claim

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The Independent Online

A millionaire farmer has withdrawn his claim for compensation for damage caused to his crops by police searching for Sarah Payne, the eight-year-old girl who was murdered in West Sussex.

A millionaire farmer has withdrawn his claim for compensation for damage caused to his crops by police searching for Sarah Payne, the eight-year-old girl who was murdered in West Sussex.

Paul Langmead blamed the "great unhappiness" that the public reaction to his claim had caused his family. The claim for £10,000, made just three days after her naked body was found, has been criticised as ill-timed and heartless. Police said the move left them "open mouthed".

In a statement issued last night, Mr Langmead, who owns Roundstone Farm in Ferring, near Worthing, said: "Owing to the great unhappiness this has caused my farm staff and family, we are withdrawing any claim for damages caused to our crops."

Mr Langmead who owns the wheat field where Sarah was playing before she was abducted three weeks ago said his crop had been destroyed in the hunt for the missing schoolgirl. He initially said the claim was "entirely proper", and added that the money would be donated to the Sarah Payne Fund.

Sarah's grandfather Terry, 58, angrily rejected the offer, saying: "I have never been so angry in all my life. We are fuming. How can anyone look for money from the search for my granddaughter? Has he not seen what we have gone through as a family?"

The National Farmers' Union refused to back Mr Langmead's claim though other farmers defended the move, saying the damage, ahead of harvest time, would represent a serious financial loss for Mr Langmead.

Forensic science teams had searched the field for clues and detectives staged a reconstruction there of Sarah's last known movements. Police estimate that approximately three acres of the farm were affected by the search.

Meanwhile, police are continuing their hunt for Sarah's killer by carrying out house-to-house inquiries around a property in Crawley where a Littlehampton man, arrested after Sarah went missing, had been staying after he was released on police bail.

Police will also this morning stop motorists on the A29 near Pulborough, close to the site where the youngster's body was found on Monday. Other moves include visiting a car boot sale and a vintage vehicle rally today.

While police have found one of Sarah's shoes in a hedge, the other shoe and her clothes remain missing.

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