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Family 'heartbroken' over Payne dad

The children of Michael Payne, father of murdered schoolgirl Sarah, have paid tribute to him following his death.

Mr Payne was found dead at his home in Kent on Monday.

Police said they discovered the body of a 45-year-old man at a property in Brishing Lane, Maidstone.

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

Mr Payne had developed a drink problem after his daughter (inset right) was abducted and killed in 2000.

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.

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


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.

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

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

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.

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.