Channel 5 aired the heartbreaking Sarah Payne: A Mother’s Story on Wednesday night (April 8th).
The documentary follows the abduction of 8-year-old Sarah Payne who disappeared near her grandparents’ house while playing with her siblings.
Two weeks after that, Sarah’s body was found and her murderer Roy Whiting received a life sentence in prison. Roy had previously served in prison, following the sexual assault of a 9-year-old child back in 1995, but he got released after two years.
Sarah’s devastating murder led to the collapse of her parents’ marriage who separated in 2003. And her father Michael Payne found it hard to cope with his child’s loss, leading to depression and alcoholism.
Michael and Sara Payne
Following Sarah’s murder, Michael and his wife Sara started a campaign to give more information to the public about sex offenders. And in 2011, they successfully introduced Sarah’s Law which gives parents and guardians the right to request previous child sexual offences.
But Michael found it hard to cope with the loss of his child, leading to depression and mental health problems.
In 2003, he and his wife Sara separated after being married for 18 years. Michael moved out of their family home in Surrey and went to live in Maidstone, Kent.
Back in 2011, Michael received a 16-month prison sentence for attacking his brother after heavy drinking. At a court hearing, Michael revealed that he’d developed a drinking problem following Sarah’s death.
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Sarah Payne: A Mother’s Story on Channel 5 – heartbreaking and uplifting.
— Simon Bell MA (@SimonBell123) April 8, 2020
Michael Payne’s death
In 2014, Michael died at his home in Maidstone at the age of 45.
According to a BBC report, he died from natural causes and his death wasn’t listed as suspicious.
Emotional tributes from Michael’s children
Charlotte and Lee Payne paid emotional tributes on social media following their father’s death.
Charlotte wrote: “No matter what happened and how many mistakes we all made, you will always be my daddy,” while Lee said: “Dad, you had your demons and troubles but you had a good heart and were a decent man…you will be missed. We are all heartbroken.”