A menace to children and every parent's and grandparent's nightmare come true: The judge's own verdict on Roy Whiting.

Mr Justice Curtis told the paedophile he would be kept in prison for the rest of his life.

The judge told Whiting, who was jailed for a similar attack on a young girl six years ago, to stand up as he sentenced him to life behind bars.

He said: "You have had a fair trial. I deliberately ordered you be tried on the fact of this murder and kidnap and not on your appalling record, which the jury has now heard.

"You are every parent's and grandparent's nightmare come true."

Whiting stared fixedly ahead, blinking back tears as Mr Justice Curtis continued: "It is important in ordinary life that children are allowed some freedom by their parents and others to learn self reliance and enjoy their childhood.

"You exploited this for your own abnormal sexual desire.

"You took this girl away in a few moments. I am satisfied you were looking for such a child on that evening.

"It's ludicrous to suggest you needed that van for the job you had to do - it was a moving prison.

"You are intelligent enough to know you were more likely to be caught if you used a car.

"In it you had that rope, a knife, some ties and soft materials that would go in the back as a makeshift cushion, as well as the baby oil. I am quite satisfied you indecently assaulted her.

"One of the items in the van had a small spot of semen on it. This was the only indication which survived your work at getting rid of all the evidence by pressure washing the van and getting rid of all her clothes, plus removing the panelling and back doors in order to destroy any evidence that Sarah had been in that van.

"As we all know, you stripped her naked after you suffocated her and then buried her. You are indeed an evil man.

"What is worse is that in early 1995 you did exactly the same thing. That girl, mercifully, you did not kill.

"The medical evidence is that in no way are you medically unwell - you are a cunning and glib liar.

"On July 2 of last year you pretended you had learnt your lesson from your earlier conviction. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"My judgement is you are and remain an absolute menace to any little girl. This is one of the rare cases where I shall recommend the appropriate authorities you be kept in prison for the rest of your life so no third child is added to the list of your victims."

Moments later, prosecuting barrister Timothy Langdale QC revealed to the jury that the labourer was a convicted child sex attacker.

Shortly after Whiting had been sent to the cells, Mr Justice Curtis ordered everyone to remain inside the court as he made an announcement.

He praised Deborah Bray, the woman who spotted Sarah's shoe lying at a crossroads in Coolham. The shoe proved a crucial piece of evidence.

He said: "It seems to me that one of the few people who come out of this case with colours flying is the lady who had the wit to spot the importance of the shoe.

"Instead of saying, 'It's nothing to do with me,' she took it to the police. It seems to me that without the shoe there would have been nothing for the scientists to compare the fibres from Whiting's van with.

"This is to be highly commended. I award her £500 for her public-spirited attitude, observation and common sense."

He turned to the jury and said: "This must have been an agonising case for you to try."

Then he said they would be exempt from jury service for the next five years.

December 13, 2001