Michael Payne, the father of murdered child Sarah Payne, has died following struggles with booze and depression
Michael Payne, the father of murdered child Sarah Payne, has died following struggles with alcohol and depression Reuters

The father of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne has been found dead.

Michael Payne, 45, had problems with alcohol and depression after his eight-year-old daughter was abducted and killed by a paedophile in 2000.

He and the girl's mother Sara Payne were thrust into the national spotlight by the killing, which shocked and outraged Britain.

Michael Payne joined successful efforts to bring in a law allowing families to know when a child sex offender was living nearby.

But Michael continued to suffer from the impact of Sarah's death and in 2003 split up with wife Sara and moved to Kent.

He was jailed for 16 months in 2011 for a drunken and violent attack on his brother. It emerged at the trial he had not had any support or counselling over Sarah's death.

Former wife Sara reflected that there had been insufficient support for Michael and other fathers.

"Heartbroken" daughter Charlotte paid tribute on Facebook, posting an image of him with the caption: "No matter what happened and how many mistakes we all made. You will always be my daddy.

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

A Kent Police spokesman said: "Police attended an address in Brishing Lane in Maidstone on the evening of 27 October and found the occupant, a 45 year-old man, had died at the property.

"The death is not being treated as suspicious. A report will be prepared for the coroner."

Paedophile Roy Whiting was jailed for life for murdering Sarah.

'Sarah's law' changed the access families have to sensitive information about child sex offenders in their midst. It enables people to check whether those with access to their children have relevant convictions.

The Samaritans provides a free support service for those who need to talk to someone. They can be contacted through their website or on 08457 90 90 90, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call charges apply.