Two decades on from the murder of Sarah Payne, a Channel 5 documentary tonight (July 22) charts the mistakes her killer made – but one person who won’t get any closure, sadly, is her dad Michael.
Sarah Payne: 5 Mistakes That Caught a Killer will examine the murder of eight-year-old Sarah, who was killed by Roy Whiting in 2000.
The programme features interviews with detectives, forensic experts and other crucial witnesses.
It’ll also chart the police investigation and the evidence that led them to her killer.
But while Sara’s mum went on to to become a charity campaigner and was awarded an MBE, her dad Michael spiralled into alcoholism, and his story sadly ends in tragedy.
So what happened to Sarah Payne’s dad?
Sarah’s dad struggled terribly with his grief after she was killed.
Unable to cope with the heartache, Michael slowly turned to alcohol as a coping mechanism.
In another devastating blow, he and Sarah’s mother Sara split after Whiting was jailed for her murder after 18 years together.
Both Michael and Sara said that their grief took its toll on their relationship.
He in particular felt guilty and blamed himself for not protecting his daughter.
In 2011, Michael, who was heavily drinking at the time, was sent to prison after attacking his brother Stephen.
Three years later, in December 2014, his body was found at his home following a long battle with alcoholism.
What did the dad of Sarah Payne die of?
Officials said that he died of natural causes at the age of just 45.
His family revealed that he spent his final days drinking alone in his flat, still blaming himself for his daughter’s death.
Michael’s body was discovered in a chair in his flat in Maidstone, Kent.
At the time, his father told The Sun: “I hadn’t spoken to him since the last Friday of September. I had agreed to speak to him the next week but there was no answer.
“I kept calling and leaving answerphone messages but never heard anything. Eventually the phone was cut off, so we knew something was wrong and we called the police.
“The police broke their way into his flat, and found him sitting there in his chair. We don’t know exactly what he died of, but we think it was drink-related.”
What happened to Sarah Payne?
Sarah was just eight years old when she was kidnapped and killed by convicted paedophile Roy Whiting.
In the summer of 2000, she was staying at her grandparents’ house in West Sussex with her two brothers Lee and Luke and sister Charlotte.
While out playing by a corn field in a quiet country lane, she was snatched.
Lee witnessed the moment his sister was taken and later recalled seeing Whiting grinning and smiling as he sped away in a white van.
He remembered the vehicle skidding and the tyres screeching because it was moving so fast.
Sixteen days later, her naked body was found dumped in a shallow grave just a few miles away.
Where are Sarah’s mum and siblings now?
Following the murder of her daughter, Sara Payne campaigned for parents to be given the right to know if a convicted child sex offender is living in their community.
Sarah’s Law was trialed in 2008 and extended across England and Wales in 2011.
Also in 2011, it was reported that she was a victim of the News of the World’s phone hacking scandal.
Siblings Luke, Lee and Charlotte were all with Sarah when she was snatched. Luke was 12, Lee was 13 and Charlotte was six.
In a documentary years later, Lee said: “I did for a few years beat myself up …. that if I ran faster … I might have caught up with her.”
Charlotte is now a singer, Luke is a horticulturalist and Lee is a personal trainer.
Sarah Payne: 5 Mistakes That Caught a Killer is on Channel 5 tonight (July 22) at 11.05pm.
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