Sarah Payne's Father, Michael, Dies Aged Just 45 After Alcoholism Battle

The father of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne has died aged just 45 after years of battling alcoholism.

Michael Payne was found dead at his home in Maidstone, Kent, on Monday. He had developed a drink problem after his eight-year-old daughter was abducted and killed in 2000 and admitted he suffered from feelings of guilt.

A Kent police spokesman said: "The death is not being treated as suspicious. A report will be prepared for the coroner."

Michael Payne the father of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne

Sarah Payne, aged 8

His children have paid tribute to him following his death, saying they hope he has found "peace and happiness."

His daughter Charlotte posted a picture of her father on Facebook alongside a message saying she was "heartbroken".

"No matter what happened and how many mistakes we all made. You will always be my daddy," she wrote.

She later added: "I'm sorry I couldn't save you dad. I hope you have finally found your peace and happiness."

Her brother Lee wrote: "Dad, you had your demons and troubles but you had a good heart and was a decent man! I hope now you have found peace at last! RIP, you will be missed. We are all heartbroken."

Michael Payne split from his wife Sara in 2003 after 18 years together, with both of them blaming the difficulties of coping with the tragic loss of their daughter.

Sara and Michael Payne

Speaking at the time Mrs Payne, who became a child protection campaigner after her daughter's death, told the News of the World: "We know we're not the same people we once were - and everyone knows the awful reason why."

Mr Payne told the newspaper he felt guilty for being unable to protect his daughter and said this had put strain on his marriage.

Sarah's death put a strain on the couple's marriage, Mr Payne had said

Three years ago Mr Payne was jailed after pleading guilty to glassing his brother Stephen following a heavy drinking session during which both men consumed around three litres of cider each and a bottle of vodka.

Sentencing him, Judge Jeremy Carey said he had the "deepest sympathy" for the loss of his daughter but the offence warranted a jail sentence.

Sarah Payne

Speaking after the jail term for his daughter's killer, convicted paedophile Roy Whiting, was reduced in 2010, Mr Payne said the decision to cut the sentence from 50 years to 40 before becoming eligible for parole was "outrageous".

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

Sarah was just eight-years-old when she went missing while playing in a field close to her grandparents' home at Kingston, West Sussex on a summer's day 14 years ago.

Her disappearance and the subsequent jailing of Whiting for her murder sparked a campaign led by her mother that would eventually lead to a change in the law.

Following years of pressure on the Government, Sarah's Law came into effect in 2011, allowing parents to ask police if anyone with access to their child is a convicted paedophile.

Mrs Payne was awarded an MBE in 2008 for her tireless campaigning on the issue.

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