- Dr Sara Payne was ‘stalked and harassed’ – including by a paedophile
- The abuse increased after the death of her ex-husband Michael last month
- Their daughter was abducted and murdered by Roy Whiting in 2000
- Trolls have been persistently delighting in her eight-year-old’s death
The mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne has been forced to quit Twitter after years of ‘unrelenting’ abuse, mainly by trolls delighting in the death of her daughter.
Dr Sara Payne endured ‘stalking and harassment’ online, including by a convicted paedophile, her closest friend has said.
Shy Keenan, who is a child protection campaigner said today Ms Payne was ‘forced to close down her Twitter account’ and called for the suspects to be arrested.
The abuse Dr Payne suffered increased in recent weeks, particularly after the death of her ex-husband Michael, 45.
Shame: Dr Sara Payne, left, has quit Twitter after unrelenting abuse by trolls, particularly about the murder of her daughter
He died alone in his armchair after being driven to drink and despair by the death of his daughter and his family said he was tortured by ‘the fact he wasn’t there to protect her’.
Their daughter was snatched by paedophile Roy Whiting from a field near her grandparents’ home in West Sussex, where she was playing with older brothers Luke and Lee and younger sister Charlotte in 2000.
Tragedy: The abuse Dr Payne suffered increased in recent weeks, particularly after the death of her ex-husband Michael, 45, pictured
Mr Payne spoke of his battle with depression in the aftermath of the ordeal, when he suffered recurring nightmares and used alcohol to cope with her death.
Michael Payne and his then wife made a series of heart-rending appeals for her safe return, but her body was discovered 16 days later in a shallow grave just a few miles away.
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 and Mrs Payne ended their 18-year marriage three years after the disappearance and both blamed the ‘overwhelming’ strains of coping with their tragic loss.
Sarah’s mother, 45, went on to campaign for a change in legislation to allow parents to know if convicted child sex offenders live nearby, known as Sarah’s Law.
Monster: Roy Whiting loses his temper during a police interview over the murder of Sarah Payne. In 2001 he was jailed for life with no parole
She has been awarded an MBE and an honorary doctorate for her work and told recently how it had given her ‘much-needed focus’ amid the grief and her severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mrs Payne also suffered a stroke in 2009 which has left her walking with the assistance of a stick.
CAMPAIGN FOR SARAH’S LAW: SCHOOLGIRL’S DEATH CHANGED BRITAIN
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.