Whiting was questioned about the disappearance of Payne, which had taken place about 8 km (5 miles) from Whiting's place of residence. Whiting was routinely questioned as he had been placed on the Sex Offenders Register. The officers left Whiting, but were suspicious of his lack of concern for Payne, something that some of the worst offenders had shown when questioned in connection with Payne's disappearance. When Whiting re-appeared soon after he attempted to drive away in his van, he was stopped by the police and arrested. Whiting spent two days in custody, but a lack of police evidence led to Whiting's release on bail. Although police had found a receipt for fuel from Buck Barn garage near Pulborough, which contradicted his alibi of being at a funfair in Hove at 5:30 p.m. and then returned to his flat by 9.30 p.m. on the night that Payne had disappeared, there was no other evidence to press charges. When Whiting was released on bail, he went to live with his father in Crawley while his flat on Saint Augustine's Road was being searched by forensic investigators. No evidence was found in Whiting's flat to suggest that Payne had been at the flat. Whiting was subsequently re-arrested on 31 July 2000. After Payne's body was discovered 5 km (3 miles) from Buck Barn service station where Whiting had bought fuel on the night of Payne's disappearance and Whiting's failure to confirm his alibi. Police still had a lack of evidence to press charges and Whiting was released on bail. A few days following his second arrest, Whiting moved out of his father's house after a vigilante attack and went to live in a tent in woodland behind a housing estate in Crawley. Whiting's father moved out of the house afterwards, fearing for his own safety. On 21 July 2000, Whiting stole a Vauxhall Nova and was pursued by police at speeds of up to 70 mph before crashing into a parked vehicle. Whiting was arrested on a charge of dangerous driving. Whiting was remanded in custody until 27 September 2000, when he admitted taking the car and driving dangerously and was jailed for 22 months. When Whiting began his jail term for the car theft and dangerous driving, detectives were able to carry out forensic tests on his 1988 Fiat Ducato van, which he had bought on 23 June 2000. On 6 February 2001, following a police enquiry, Whiting was charged with Payne's murder.
Payne had disappeared a mere 5 miles from Roy Whiting’s home, a registered sex offender. Whiting was routinely questioned over the disappearance as he was on the sex offenders list. Never the less, he was not taken into custody. Whiting’s alibi stated that he had been in Hove at a funfair at 5.30 and did not get home until 9.30. Despite the police finding a receipt which showed Whiting had visited a petrol station near Pulborough at the time of the adduction, they had no substantial evidence to hold him.
On the 6th February 2001, Whiting was charged with the murder and abduction of Sarah Payne. Finally on the 12th December 2001, after a 4 week trial, Whiting was sentenced to life imprisonment.
After 17 months of painstaking forensic work ending in a trial lasting more than three weeks, Roy Whiting was found guilty of the murder and kidnapping of Sarah Payne following evidence of fibres and a single hair. Eight-year-old Sarah went missing on 1 July 2000 while visiting her grandparents in Kingston Gorse in Sussex. A massive search was started and Sussex Police asked for help from FSS specialist adviser Ray Fysh. A local man on the sex offenders' register soon became a suspect, his van seized and exhibits sent for forensic examination. On 17 July Sarah's decomposing body was found. Following a targeted approach, the first breakthrough came in December 2000...
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