A single blonde hair from Sarah Payne's head proves Roy Whiting was her killer, a court heard.

The hair was found on a red sweatshirt seized from Whiting's Fiat Ducato van when he was arrested the day after eight-year-old Sarah disappeared on July 1 last year.

The jury in Sarah's murder trial heard how DNA analysis had shown the chance of it not coming from the schoolgirl was a billion-to-one.

Timothy Langdale, closing his prosecution speech at Lewes Crown Court, said detectives had built up a forensic jigsaw of fibres and hairs which provided "extremely strong" evidence Sarah had been in his van after being snatched from a lane near her grandparents' home in Kingston Gorse, near Littlehampton.

He said: "If that's the case, it would appear to be unanswerable that Whiting was the man who seized her, he was the man who killed her, the man who disposed of her clothing and the man who, no doubt during the night, buried her in that field."

Mechanic and builder Whiting, 42, of St Augustine Road, Littlehampton, denies kidnap and murder.

The trial was halted on Thursday and a new jury sworn in following what Judge Richard Curtis described as a "procedural irregularity."

Throughout day one of the retrial on Friday Whiting sat in the dock studying the sheaves of evidence carefully and making notes.

Mr Langdale outlined the other forensic evidence which he said provided a "compelling picture" of Whiting's guilt.

Four fibres from the same sweatshirt were found snagged in the Velcro strap of a black shoe identical to the pair Sarah was wearing, discovered near where she was found in a field off the A29 near Pulborough, 16 days after going missing.

Mr Langdale said another fibre from a curtain in Whiting's van was also on the strap.

He mentioned other links between fibres taken from a clump of hair found beside Sarah's grave and fibres found on Whiting's clothing.

He also said a body bag used to transport Sarah's remains was found to contain a fibre matching the cover of the van's driving seat.

Mr Langdale said: "The prosecution puts evidence before you which we say is compelling evidence pointing to the guilt of this defendant."

The jury was also asked to consider why Whiting had lied to police about his whereabouts on the night Sarah vanished, why he had altered his appearance and that of his van soon after and how he was familiar with the spots from where Sarah was snatched and where her body was found.

Mr Langdale went on to explain that, central to the charge of murder, is intent on the part of the killer to take life or at least cause grievous bodily harm.

Sarah's father Michael, 33, who had been sitting with his head in his hands as he heard the evidence, left the courtroom as Mr Langdale went on: "There are pieces of the jigsaw missing, perhaps inevitably, as you cannot produce films of what happened or telephone recordings.

"We cannot put before you precisely what happened to Sarah Payne after she was taken in that van.

"But the prosecution says you can be satisfied this was not the case of an accident or anything of that kind in terms of the killing of this child.

"The man who took her away and did whatever he did to her had two major problems. Who knows whether Sarah Payne had resisted, struggled or screamed?

"Who knows where she was when things happened to her?

"The other major problem is that if Sarah Payne had been assaulted in some way, there was a real risk that if she had lived she would have lived to tell the tale.

"The considerable evidence in this case demonstrates that Roy Whiting is not only guilty of kidnapping Sarah but also of murdering her."

Earlier in the day the jury heard how Whiting altered his appearance and that of the van in the hours after he allegedly killed Sarah.

A friend who stopped to speak to him minutes before he was arrested outside his flat on July 2 later told police he looked like he had been "steam cleaned."

Mr Langdale said neighbour Terence Heath said Whiting appeared clean-shaven and scrubbed-up compared to his usual "unhygienic" standards.

The prosecution also alleged Whiting altered his Fiat, ripping out a wooden partition between the front seats and the back and replacing the windowless doors.

The jury had been told how when Sarah's brother, Lee, 14, went to look for Sarah after she ran off in tears from the field where she had been playing with him and her other brother Luke, 11, and sister Charlotte, five, the driver of a white van waved and smiled at him as he drove by.

The jury was also told Whiting had a good knowledge of both the area where Sarah was abducted and where her body was found dumped.

Mr Langdale said Douglas Wawman, who employed Whiting in 1999 as a builder, asked him to work on a house in Golden Avenue, around the corner from Sarah's grandparents' home in Peak Lane.

Mr Wawman told police how Whiting sometimes walked his dog in the area and spoke of how Whiting told him how he visited a field nearby, the court heard.

Mark Woods employed Whiting as a builder on several jobs in the area in 1999 where Sarah's body was discovered. One of Whiting's workmates, Paul Beaton, told police how the pair had once met at a cafe close to where Sarah's body was found.

He also said Whiting seemed to have a very good knowledge of major and minor roads in the area.

The case is expected to resume on Monday with Sarah's mother Sara, 32, giving evidence.

November 17 2001