Nearly 20 years ago the nation was saddened about the disappearance of 8 year old Sara Payne. She had been playing outside her paternal grandparents home with her brothers and sister when she was abducted. A nationwide search was conducted, with appeals for information on her whereabouts by her parents Sara and Michael on television. Devastatingly, 16 days later her little body was found in a field near Pulborough, she had been murdered. The pain and trauma shared by a nation as an innocent little girl had her life tragically cut short.
In this documentary, Good Morning Britain co-presenter Susanna Reid speaks with Sara Payne and other members of Sarah’s family about the horrible incident. Predominantly speaking with Sara, the veteran presenter explores how Payne family life changed and how the entire family have been devoted in campaigning to change the law.
The most shocking aspect to the nation of Sarah’s abduction and murder was the fact her killer, Roy Whiting, was a convicted paedophile. This documentary focussed particularly on the Payne’s work to allow people to make a formal request to the police to find out if someone who has access to a child has any previous records of child sexual offences. This is known as “Sarah’s Law”. Whiting was questioned several times by police just 24 hours after Sarah’s disappearance but released on bail, it was only when forensics and the discovery of the child’s school shoe were made was he formally charged. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on 12 December 2001.
Susanna speaks with Sarah’s grandparents, who have never spoken publicly about their granddaughter’s death before, revealing the devastation and impact it had on them. She also hears from Sarah’s siblings – her brothers, both now fathers, and her sister are still clearly torn and broken by the episode. Yet Sara reveals some comfort to what happened, she states “When I think about her, I think about her playing with her brothers and her sister. If those were her last moments on this earth, then that’s what I would have chosen for her…That must have been a lovely afternoon for them”.
This is a heartbreaking and hard hitting documentary which reveals the devastation upon the family, but it also shows resolve, their determination to change the law has no doubt protected other children. A must see for any parent.
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