From the day their daughter went missing Sarah's family have rarely been out of the media spotlight.

They have had two specially-trained officers assigned to support them and their family.

When the blaze of publicity following Whiting's conviction dies down and the media circus rolls away they will, for the first time, be alone to deal with the emptiness Sarah's death has left in their lives.

Police have drawn up plans to gradually withdraw from their home, reducing the number of visits over time.

Detective Sergeant Sean Scott, who has been the family liaison officer throughout the case, said: "The role will cease. I've got to get on with my job."

Speaking during the trial, he said: "Working with the family has been very demanding throughout this case, trying to strike the right balance.

"I was with them on the day Whiting was charged. It was dreadful.

"They are very aware that at the end of the case if Whiting is found guilty they are not going to stand on the court steps jumping up and down.

"There will be this huge, horrible, flat feeling.

"They are suffering every day."

Mr Scott said social services, trauma workers and police near their home in Surrey had all been working together to build foundations for the family's future following the conviction.

He said: "We will not just abandon them."

December 12, 2001