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Fury of Sarah Payne's mother as killer uses legal aid to get sentence slashed by 10 years

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Fury of Sarah Payne's mother as killer uses legal aid to get sentence slashed by 10 years

Post by ufercoffy on 09.06.10 12:59

The mother of Sarah Payne today attacked the legal aid system which allowed her daughter's killer to have his sentence slashed by ten years.

Roy Whiting, 51, will now serve 40 years instead of 50 for the kidnap and murder of the eight-year-old girl after a ruling by the High Court.

Sara Payne said it made her 'really mad' that prisoners continued to have 'legally-aided fights.'

Reduction: Roy Whiting's jail term for the murder of Sarah Payne was slashed from 50 to 40 years

She added that she wanted to see as much access to legal aid for victims as for prisoners in a GMTV interview with Lorraine Kelly.

'Obviously, it is law firms, lawyers, that go round and tell prisoners "did you know you could be fighting on this, or this, or this?" and of course prisoners want to buck the system as much as they can.'

'If you have got nothing else to do but sit in a prison cell, then you are going to do whatever you can to get out.'

Sarah was snatched by Whiting on July 1, 2000 near the home of her grandparents in West Sussex, where she had been playing with her brothers and sister.

After a huge search, her body was discovered in a field 16 days later off the A29 at Pulborough.
Whiting was jailed for life in 2001 for the kidnap and murder. The trial judge recommended that he should never be released.

In 2002, the then-home secretary David Blunkett set a 50-year tariff - the least Whiting must serve before becoming eligible to apply for parole.

Tireless campaigner: Sara Payne, Sarah's mother now walks with a stick after being seriously ill last year

But that was overturned today by Mr Justice Simon, sitting in London, who concluded the 'appropriate' minimum term was a period of 40 years.

He stressed the sentence on Whiting remained one of imprisonment for life and he would be detained 'unless and until the Parole Board is satisfied that he no longer presents a risk to the public'.

'Even if the Parole Board decides then or at some time in the future to authorise his release, he will be on licence for the rest of his life,' he addde.

Whiting was not in court to hear the ruling. But Mrs Payne was in the packed room for the proceedings.

At one point, she linked hands with the a man sitting next to her but was otherwise impassive.

After announcing the new minimum term, Mr Justice Simon said: 'I invite everyone present in court to pause and for a moment remember Sarah Payne who would now be 18 if she had not been murdered, and reflect the grave loss her death has caused to her family and others who loved her.'

Support: Mrs Payne attended court with her surviving children Lee, 23, (third from right) Luke, 21 (second from left), and Charlotte (third from left), 15.

He said he had received a victim impact statement from Sarah's mother 'in which the devastating effect on her family of Sarah's abduction and murder is very movingly described'.

Mrs Payne, who was critically ill last year, walked with the help of a stick and left the hearing surrounded by her surviving children Lee, 23, Luke, 21, and 15-year-old Charlotte.
The family all wore badges marked 'For Sarah' bearing a picture of the little girl's smiling face.

Mrs Payne said: 'The family is clearly disappointed that the tariff has been reduced, but he will be well into his 80s before he is eligible, so it's not a terrible, terrible thing, and could have been a lot worse, so we carry on as before.

'He's in prison now, he can't hurt any children there.

'All the time it was 50 years, my family and I could relax - there was no way he could be near any children and hurt them.

'Right now, of course, we are a little bit reeling.

'The family obviously doesn't get a parole date. There's no end to this. This is our life from now on.

'This is about Sarah, it's not about Roy Whiting, so let's get it back to the little girl it's about.

Grief: Sara Payne today told Lorraine Kelly that victims should have greater access to legal aid


Recovery: Mrs Payne said she was better after being seriously ill last year - but 'had not got' a left side of her body

The man is a danger to children and will remain so as long as he lives and breathes.'

'Although it's 10 years and we have moved forward, my children are very different from the same family Sarah was taken from.

'We just put our thoughts and feelings out there. It's not the life we would have led.'
She added Whiting should die in prison.

Sarah's father Michael said the cut was 'outrageous.'

'He didn't deserve a reduction but he won't be coming out,' he added.

Mrs Payne, who underwent brain surgery for a ruptured aneurysm, said she was now 'OK' - but added that she had now 'not got' a left side of her body.

She said her campaigning work had helped prevent her from falling into a 'black hole' of grief.

She said the 10th anniversary of her daughter's murder this July would be 'awful' but her birthday in October was worse.

'Her birthday is worse for me. The other day is her death day, her birthday is really worse.

'There are so many things that Sarah has missed, our lives have been enriched because she was in them, we were very, very lucky to have her,' she added.

Mrs Payne had campaigned tirelessly for victims' rights and for a change in the law to publicise where sex offenders live.

She was made an MBE for services to child protection in 2008.

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