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5 February 2014

Sara Payne - A Mother's Story
Sara Payne
Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date
28 March 2005
true crime, memoir

I was about to say… this is very upsetting to read if you are a parent. But to be honest, even if are not a parent, it will not be an easy read. But every parent knows that sinking feeling you get when your child is just a few minutes late.

A biography / memoir and True Crime. Ghostwritten, but very thoughtful, an insight into the immense pain and devastation felt by the family of tragic 8 year old Sarah Payne (her mother and author of this book is also called Sara Payne). This was a crime that shocked Britain in the summer of 2002. Every parent's worst nightmare, Sarah vanished whilst playing outside in a field with her siblings. After 17 days her body was found in a country lane. A convicted paedophile, living in the same village, was convicted of her killing. His previous sentence for the sexual assault and abduction of another 8 year old girl had been lenient and he had been let out of prison after 2 years 

It is a very factual account, telling us firstly very honestly about the Payne family - ordinary and by no means perfect, often chaotic, house not tip top tidy and occasionally not adverse to alcohol, but so much love for their children above everything else. Then the tragic events - Sarah's disappearene and murder, the aftermath including the hunt to the killer and eventually the realisation that it was somone living close by and a well known offender. Trying to continue with life, the breakdown of their marriage...Sara Payne come across as a woman who managed to find extraordinary inner strengh after her daughters murder, which she channels to fight for Sarah's Law (a law which would allow people to have the right to enquire if a known paedophile lives in their area). It was initially rejected by parliament, fearing 'self-justice' by people. However, trials of this law have now gone ahead in Britain and I believe under certain circumstances, you can now apply to your local police station to see if a paedophile is living nearby. 14 years later Sara Payne is still campaigning tirelessly.