Sarah Payne's killer may have spotted her on the beach

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The killer of Sarah Payne may have abducted the schoolgirl after spotting her on a beach with her family minutes earlier, police said yesterday.

The killer of Sarah Payne may have abducted the schoolgirl after spotting her on a beach with her family minutes earlier, police said yesterday.

Detectives appealed to holidaymakers who were on the beach at East Preston, West Sussex, on the evening of Sarah's disappearance on 1 July to hand in photographs or video in the hope that they may feature the murderer.

The plea for information was one of several fresh appeals made by senior officers as they revealed that a reward of £150,000, donated by the media and others, is now on offer to catch the eight-year-old's killer.

It is nearly five weeks since Sarah's naked body was found by a farm worker in a field off the A29 trunk road after she went missing while playing just yards from her grandparents' home near East Preston.

Sarah was walking home alone after an argument with her brothers, Lee, 13, and 11-year-old Luke, and her sister Charlotte, six, when she was taken from a quiet country lane and killed.

The murder sparked a public outcry that led to a "name and shame" campaign by the News of the World and calls for a "Sarah's law" that would make public the names of convicted paedophiles.

Detective Superintendent Alan Ladley, the officer leading a 60-strong investigation team, said he and his officers "remain as determined as ever to solve this crime".

He added: "Whoever abducted Sarah may have been watching her with her family on the beach. If people took photographs or video on the beach between 6pm and 7.30pm they may hold vital clues."

An exact copy of the blue Fred Perry-style dress worn by Sarah when she was abducted was produced by police as they outlined four key areas where they need more information.

Detectives,, who have twice arrested and released a suspect, have not yet been able to trace any DNA samples from Sarah's body or the scene where she was found.

As well as appealing for traces of the dress and for two horse riders seen on the beach to come forward, Mr Ladley asked for details on the white van believed to have been used to snatch the schoolgirl.

The Transit-style van, which may also have been a Talbot Express, Fiat Ducato, Mercedes Sprinter or Renault Master, had no rear windows. It may have been seen in Littlehampton and on the A29 near Pulborough.

Police praised the response to the inquiry as "overwhelming". A hotline has received 35,000 phone calls and detectives have interviewed more than 4,000 people and taken over 800 statements.

Sarah will be buried next Thursday at a private funeral ceremony to be held near the Payne family home in Hersham, Surrey.

Anyone with information should call 0845 60 70 999

Comments