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Levi Bellfield remanded on Milly Dowler murder charge

A former nightclub doorman and wheelclamper appeared in court today accused of murdering Milly Dowler eight years ago.

Levi Bellfield, 41, is alleged to have kidnapped the 13-year-old as she walked in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in 2002.

Prosecutors claim he then killed her before dumping her body in Yateley Heath, Hampshire.

Bellfield, originally from West Drayton, Middlesex, appeared by video link at Staines Magistrates' Court in south west London.

He was remanded in custody at the end of a brief hearing and ordered to attend Guildford Crown Court on April 30.

Wearing a blue polo shirt with a bright red logo and with close-shaven hair, Bellfield took notes throughout the hearing.

The accused, who is heavily built and sports a short goatee beard, was appearing by video link from Wakefield Prison.

He spoke only to confirm his date of birth - May 17, 1968 - and to say he could see and hear clearly and understood what took place.

The Clerk of the Court read out the three charges Bellfield faces and told the magistrates' bench they can only be tried in a Crown Court.

Bellfield is also charged with attempting to kidnap 12-year-old Rachel Cowles the day before Milly disappeared.

Nigel Pilkington, of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said Bellfield should be remanded in custody until his next court hearing.

Solicitor Jeremy Moore, for Bellfield, said he had nothing to add and made no application for bail.

Dr Barbara Mason, the chair of the bench, remanded Bellfield in custody and ordered him to appear at Guildford Crown Court.

Bellfield bowed at the magistrates' bench at the end of the five- minute hearing.

Asked if he understood what had happened, he replied: "Yes, I do, thank you very much."

Twelve reporters and court artists filled every available seat in the modern courtroom.

There were also a large number of Surrey Police detectives and prosecution officials in the room.

The prosecution follows a multimillion-pound police inquiry into one of Britain's best-known unsolved murders.

Amanda Dowler, known to her family as Milly, disappeared while walking home from school on March 21, 2002.

Her skeletal remains were found six months later, 30 miles away, by mushroom pickers in a little-used area of woodland.

Bellfield was first interviewed over Milly's death five years ago after he was held by the Metropolitan Police.

Officials at the CPS complex casework unit began considering a huge dossier of evidence last September.

The five files of material, drawn together by Surrey Police's Operation Ruby team, include new evidence against Bellfield obtained in December 2008.

Officers believe they also have compelling circumstantial evidence which links him to the crime.

Bellfield was living with his girlfriend, Emma Mills, a short distance from where Milly was last seen.

A heavily-loaded red Daewoo Nexia, owned by Miss Mills, was caught on CCTV driving away from area at about the time Milly disappeared.

The distinctive car has never been recovered by police who have searched a large number of lakes and questioned a scrap dealer.

A similar car was involved in the incident the precious day in which the 12-year-old girl was offered a lift home in Shepperton.