Items of clothing alleged to link defendant Roy Whiting to eight-year-old Sarah Payne were identified in court today.

Shane Gething told Lewes Crown Court that a red sweatshirt, checked padded shirt and a clown-patterned curtain were in a white van sold to defendant Roy Whiting.

On day eight of the trial, Mr Gething - a former employee of the man who sold Whiting the van - was shown photographs of the sweatshirt that later became one of the most crucial clues in the hunt for Sarah's killer.

A single strand of the youngster's blonde hair was found on the sweatshirt when examined by forensic science experts.

The court heard how Mr Gething recognised the sweatshirt and the child's curtain, which he said was used to pad out the front seat of the van.

A fibre from the curtain was found on one of Sarah's black shoes which was spotted near where her body was dumped.

The shoe was the only item of Sarah's clothing police ever found.

Whiting, 42, formerly of St Augustine Road, Littlehampton, denies the kidnap and murder of Sarah, from Hersham, Surrey.

The trial also heard that a solicitor acting for Whiting tried to use a rare legal procedure to prevent police from questioning him.

Gill McGivern told Roy Whiting not to answer any questions, saying his second arrest was illegal.

She applied to the High Court for a writ of habeas corpus on the grounds that police had no new evidence to put to Whiting.

Whiting was first arrested on the day after Sarah's disappearance and questioned for three days before being released on police bail.

When he was re-arrested on July 31 for the second time his solicitor told him not to answer any questions, the court heard.

Iain Morley, Whiting's junior defence counsel, asked Detective Inspector Jeffrey Riley about the unusual step.

He said: "I imagine there hasn't been one of these served since the Middle Ages.

"It's a very old common law power which allows the person being detained to be brought before a High Court judge for question of whether they should be detained to be decided."

The court heard how Whiting was released once more on police bail at 2.38pm on August 1, 22 minutes before the High Court hearing was due to take place.

Crispin Aylett, junior counsel for the prosecution, told the court police had received new evidence between the first and second time Whiting had been questioned. The situation had also altered because Sarah's body had been found.

He said: "Miss McGiven was saying that what the police had at the end of July was the same as they had at the start.

"She was effectively saying charge this man or let him go.

"While everyone accepts Miss McGiven was acting in good faith it is accepted that her advice was incorrect and there was legitimate basis for the arrest, detention and interview of Whiting."

The case continues.

November 27, 2001