Sarah Payne's mother and father watched in silence as videos retracing their daughter's last known movements were played in court yesterday.

In the days after eight-year-old Sarah went missing, detectives took her two older brothers back to the cornfield in Kingston Gorse, near Littlehampton, where she was last seen alive at about 7.30pm on July 1 last year.

It is alleged Roy Whiting, 42, formerly of St Augustine Road, Littlehampton, drove by in his white Fiat Ducato van and saw Sarah alone in the lane, snatched her, killed her and dumped her body. He denies kidnap and murder.

The jury at Lewes Crown Court had requested a tour of the site.

But their application was rejected by High Court Judge Richard Curtis, who suggested they should be shown the two 15-minute silent films instead.

He said: "It is impossible to recreate any useful situation 18 months after it occurred."

At 7.15pm on July 2, Sarah's brother Luke, then nine, accompanied by his mother Sara, 32, led Detective Sergeant Sean Scott and other officers from the drive of his grandparents' home in Peak Lane down the short, winding stretch of Kingston Lane leading to the field.

Luke, wearing a black jacket, blue Nike T-shirt, blue tracksuit trousers and white trainers, frequently ran on ahead of the group, pointing out small flattened areas in the long corn where he and his brother and sisters had tumbled as they played together.

With corn up to his chest, he led police across the field to a rope swing and climbed up fallen logs before skipping back down, all the time talking to the camera, clutching a stalk of corn in his left hand and gesturing with his right.

The jury has been told Sarah split from Luke, Lee, then 13, and Charlotte, then five, after a squabble during a game when she fell over and bumped her head.

She made her own way out towards a gap in the hedge.

Luke has told the court he was just ten seconds from stopping his sister walking through the gap into the hedge into the road where, the prosecution claim, Whiting swooped.

As he reached the same spot almost exactly 24 hours later he wept. His mother Sara put her arms around him and wiped away his tears.

The following day Sarah's eldest brother Lee led police on the same route.

That video was also played to the court.

Lee, wearing a khaki T-shirt, camouflage-patterned shorts and white trainers, stuck closer to his mother and father Michael, 33, as he walked the tree-lined route in the evening sunshine.

Lee showed police where he had first seen a white van passing along Kingston Lane as he chased after Sarah.

He then led officers to the junction of Peak Lane where, the jury heard, he again saw the white van pulling out.

Earlier in the trial the court was told the driver of the van flashed a yellow-toothed smile and waved at Lee before pulling away, wheels spinning. The prosecution claims Sarah was inside.

Whiting watched as the two films were shown to the packed courtroom.

Earlier, Timothy Langdale QC, closing the case for the prosecution after 12 days of evidence, told the court Lee had failed to pick out Whiting in an identity parade held on July 5.

The court also heard how in the days after Whiting's first arrest, he was placed under "discreet observation" and at no time was seen to go near the Pulborough area where Sarah's body was found in a shallow grave off the A29 on July 17.

The jury was told there had been a funfair in Hove on the night Sarah was snatched.

Whiting told police he had been to a fair in Hove when questioned about his movements.

Mud samples taken from Whiting's van and clothes were analysed but did not match samples taken from the burial site.

Police also looked for oil on the track leading to the spot where Sarah was dumped. None was found.

The court has heard how Whiting's Fiat Ducato van had an oil leak.

The trial continues.

4 December 2001