Sarah Payne’s father found dead aged 45: Ex-wife Sara thanks well-wishers for their ‘love and understanding’ after death of ex-airport worker 14 years after murder of their daughter
- Michael Payne, 45, was found dead at his home in Maidstone, Kent
- His daughter Sarah was abducted and killed by paedophile Roy Whiting
- The former airport worker had turned to drink in the aftermath of his loss
- His daughter Charlotte Payne: ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t save you dad’
- Sarah’s death eventually led to the introduction of ‘Sarah’s Law’ in 2011
The mother of Sarah Payne today thanked the public for their ‘love and understanding’ after her ex-husband Michael, the murdered schoolgirl’s father, died after a long battle with alcoholism.
Michael Payne, 45, was found dead at home in Maidstone, Kent, on Monday, and had turned to drink after his eight-year-old daughter Sarah was abducted and killed paedophile Roy Whiting in 2000.
Mr Payne, a former airport worker, separated from his wife Sara Payne less than three years after their daughter’s death. They were expecting their fifth child at the time.
Ms Payne today re-tweeted a message by close friend Shy Keenan saying: ‘Sara thanks you all (more than she can say right now) for your love, kindness and understanding at this very painful time in their lives.
‘Sara is not making any media comments at this time as she wants to be left alone to care for grieving her family’.
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Tragedy: Michael Payne, 45, had turned to drink when his eight year old daughter Sarah was murdered in 2000 and three years later he and his then-wife Sara, right, divorced
Message: Sara Payne spoke through her friend Shy Keenan today and thanked people for their support after the death of her ex-husband
Their daughter Sarah was abducted and killed by paedophile Roy Whiting after being abducted from a country lane close to her grandparents’ home at Kingston, West Sussex.
Whiting was sentenced to life behind bars in January 2001, in what became one of Britain’s most high profile child murder cases.
It later emerged that Whiting was already on the Sex Offenders Register after abducting and sexually attacking another eight-year-old.
The death of his daughter became one of Britain’s most high profile child-murder cases and Mrs Payne later campaigned for ‘Sarah’s Law’.
The rule allows concerned parents or grandparents to contact police to find out if a new boyfriend, or a neighbour, who has contact with a child, has a history of child sex offending.
Mr Payne, previously said that he felt ‘full of rage and guilt’ after his daughter’s murder.
He said: ‘I’ve a lot of anger and bitterness inside me. I’m full of guilt and rage that I wasn’t there to protect my little girl from that man.’
His ex-wife Sara said at the time: ‘We’re not the same people we once were, and everyone knows the full reason why.’
Sarah’s parents, Michael and Sara Payne, pictured during the trial of Roy Whiting in November 2001
His daughter Charlotte Payne posted this heartfelt tribute to her father on Facebook last night
Charlotte Payne’s tribute to her father on social media states he will ‘always be my daddy’
Michael and Sara Payne pictured together prior to their divorce. Mr Payne went on to battle alcoholism as he struggled to cope with the murder of their daughter
Mr Payne’s son Lee, 27, a personal trainer, announced his father’s death on social media yesterday.
He wrote: ‘Dad, you had your demons and troubles but you had a good heart and was a decent man.
‘I hope now you have found peace at last! RIP, you will be missed. We are all heartbroken.’
His daughter Charlotte, 19, also paid tribute, writing: ‘Heartbroken to say the least. No matter what happened and how many mistakes we all made.
‘You will always be my daddy.
‘I’m sorry I couldn’t save you dad. I hope you have finally found your peace and happiness.’
Later, Sara Payne spoke of the effect their daughter’s death had on Mr Payne and the difficulties men had in using victim support systems.
She said: ‘I feel sympathy for any man in the situation. It’s not geared to dads. It doesn’t take into account their emotions. They have no one to turn to.’
A Kent police spokesman said: ‘The death is not being treated as suspicious. A report will be prepared for the coroner.’
A neighbour told the Mirror the police were concerned for his welfare and ‘forced their way in to his flat a few days ago’.
In 2011, Mr Payne was jailed for 15 months after hitting his brother with a glass bottle. His brother, Stephen Payne needed 15 stitches in his hand.
Maidstone Crown Court heard that Mr Payne had consumed three litres of cider and a bottle of vodka before the attack.
Defending solicitor Oliver Saxby told the judge at sentencing: ‘The assorted aftermath had a life-changing effect on him and his then wife and his family. It’s desperately sad.
‘He never sought nor was offered assistance with bereavement counselling.
‘In a nutshell, he suffered the kind of experience that is every parent’s enduring nightmare.’
Roy Whiting (left) was convicted of murdering schoolgirl Sarah Payne (right) in 2000.
Sara and Michael pictured together at their Surrey home. Mr Payne has died following a long battle with alcoholism
Last year around five families a week were being told by police about a paedophile who has had contact with their children, and more than 700 child sex attackers were unmasked using the law.
In 2008 Sara Payne suffered a stroke leaving her paralysed down the left side of her body.
‘For a moment as I lay there I wondered if this was the point when Sarah and I would be reunited,’ she said afterwards.
‘I chose to live. When you’ve lost a child that’s a hard thing to come to terms with.’
THE CAMPAIGN FOR SARAH’S LAW
Sara and Michael Payne pictured outside Lewes Crown Court following the conviction of Whiting
In December 2001, Roy Whiting was sentenced to life in prison with a recommendation that he never be released after a jury found him guilty of the abduction and murder of Sarah Payne.
After his conviction was entered, the court heard he had a previous conviction for the kidnap and indecent assault of a nine-year-old girl.
The jury, who had been unaware of the previous sex conviction, were told Whiting had been sentenced to four years in jail for the sex attack in June 1995.
Revelations Whiting already had a history of child abuse prior to the killing of Sarah prompted a national debate about how paedophiles are dealt with in the justice system.
Mr and Mrs Payne began actively campaigning for a law change, piling pressure on ministers to allow people to know about convicted paedophiles living in their area.
In the wake of Whiting’s sentencing, Mrs Payne said: ‘The Government only can make this decision. Right now, we have got a lot of work to do and it doesn’t stop here. It just begins. You know what change I want, Sarah’s Law.’
The rule, eventually introduced in 2011, allows concerned parents or grandparents to contact police to find out if a new boyfriend, or a neighbour, who has contact with a child, has a history of child sex offending.
The scheme is a watered-down version of similar laws in the U.S. under which details of where convicted paedophiles live are actively publicised.
In 2008, Mrs Payne was awarded an MBE for her tireless campaigning on the issue.