Levi Bellfield guilty of Milly Dowler's murder
Thursday 23 June 2011
Convicted killer Levi Bellfield was found guilty today of murdering schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
An Old Bailey jury found Bellfield guilty of abducting and murdering the 13-year-old after she walked past the killer's home.
Bellfield was also accused of attempting to abduct 11-year-old Rachel Cowles the day before in March 2002.
No verdict has been reached on that charge.
It took Milly's parents Bob and Sally nine years to get justice, even though her killer had been living 50 yards from where she was last seen in Station Avenue, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey.
Police knocked on the door of Bellfield's flat in Collingwood Place, off Station Avenue, 11 times, but did not try to contact the letting agent to trace him.
Diana Cowles rang police when a man in a red car offered her daughter a lift but it was three years until officers interviewed her.
Bellfield went on to kill again twice before he was arrested by London police two years later.
He moved his family out of Collingwood Place the day after killing Milly and dumping her body 25 miles away in Yateley Heath wood, Hampshire.
Milly's bones were found six months later by mushroom pickers. She may have been strangled or suffocated, but it was impossible to say.
Bellfield, a former wheelclamper and bouncer, went on to kill Marsha McDonnell, 19, and Amelie Delagrange, 22, and to attempt to murder Kate Sheedy, 18, in 2004.
All the attacks took place near bus stops on the borders of London and Surrey. There was no apparent motive except a hatred of women.
Bellfield, 43, was jailed for life for those crimes in February 2008 and was told he would never be released.
He is now due to receive another life term to run alongside the existing jail sentence in Wakefield prison, where he spends most of the day locked in his cell.
Milly's mother and sister Gemma, 25, collapsed after hearing the verdict.
The Dowlers join a tragic list of people whose lives have been devastated by the 6ft 1in bully.
After years of anguish and heartache, they went to court to seek justice, only to have Bellfield imply that Milly's death was their fault.
They each broke down in the witness box in the face of suggestions that Milly might have run away or committed suicide because she was unhappy.
For Mr Dowler, a 59-year-old IT management consultant, there was the added humiliation of having to admit that he had an interest in bondage sex, and that police found a ball gag at the family home in Walton Park.
Milly had found a porn magazine with contact numbers for women providing kinky sex nine months before her death, and felt let down by Mr Dowler, the court heard.
This led to detectives considering him as a suspect - the first of 54 checked out by Surrey Police over the years.
Bellfield went undetected until his arrest in November 2004 for the murder of Frenchwoman Ms Delagrange.
His partner Emma Mills told detectives they had been living near Station Road and moved out suddenly.
Bellfield's red Daewoo Nexia car, which was seen turning into Station Road 22 minutes after Milly was last seen, has never been found.
As Mrs Dowler was helped from the courtroom, she collapsed in hysterics.
After being carried out by police officers, Gemma, 25, became uncontrollably emotional outside the courtroom and both began wailing and shouting "guilty".
Mr Dowler helped to comfort his daughter as the court's matron was called to help both women.
Bellfield showed no reaction to the verdict.
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