New evidence in Milly Dowler murder case

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The Independent Online

Detectives investigating the murder of schoolgirl Milly Dowler have obtained dramatic new evidence, sources said today.

Officers will submit a huge dossier of evidence against prime suspect Levi Bellfield to prosecutors within a week.

The convicted killer is suspected of murdering 13-year-old Milly in Walton-on-Thames in March 2002.

The death of Amanda Dowler, known to her family and friends as Milly, remains one of Britain's most notorious unsolved crimes.

She vanished while walking home from school in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, on March 21, 2002.

Six months later her skeletal remains were found 30 miles away by mushroom pickers in Yateley Heath, Hampshire.

Officers have been painstakingly building a case against Bellfield since he was arrested by the Metropolitan Police in November 2004 over other matters.

Bellfield, 41, was told last year that he will die in jail after he was found guilty of murdering students Marsha McDonnell, 19, and Amelie Delagrange, 22.

He was also convicted of the attempted murder of schoolgirl Kate Sheedy, 18. All of the women were attacked near bus stops in south west London.

The former nightclub bouncer and wheelclamper was arrested and interviewed over Milly's death four years ago.

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

Sources close to the inquiry said the new evidence, which cannot be revealed for legal reasons, emerged last December.

Senior detectives are understood to be confident they have enough evidence to persuade a jury Bellfield is responsible for killing Milly.

They will pass five files of evidence, including thousands of pages of documents, to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Legal experts must then decide if there is a realistic prospect Bellfield would be convicted of the murder.

They must also examine whether it is in the public interest to try Bellfield, who is already serving a whole life tariff.

Sally and Bob Dowler, Milly's parents, have been told of the latest developments in the inquiry.

The new evidence is not understood to be linked to the arrest and interview of a 40-year-old west London scrap yard owner on August 4.

Police continue to search for a red Daewoo Nexia car they believe was used to transport Milly's body from Walton-on-Thames.

The car was captured on CCTV minutes after Milly disappeared and Bellfield has since admitted driving it.

The distinctive car was owned by Bellfield's girlfriend at the time, Emma Mills, who lived in Walton-on-Thames.

She reported it missing from the car park of a pub in Hounslow, west London, several days later and it has not been seen since.

Detectives believe it may still contain key forensic evidence linking Bellfield to the murder.

In a newspaper interview earlier this year, Bellfield admitted driving the car on the day in question.

He said it was sitting low on its suspension, something that further aroused police suspicion, because he was transporting tools and building gear.

In their hunt for the car, police searched 35 miles of waterways and 40 other water sites, including reservoirs and lakes in Surrey and neighbouring counties.

Detectives believe it is likely one of Bellfield's many contacts in the motor trade arranged for it to be crushed by a scrap dealer.

A similar red car also features in another major line of inquiry sparked by what may have been an attempted abduction the previous day.

The family of a 12-year-old schoolgirl told police a man in a red car offered her a lift home in Shepperton, less than three miles from Walton-on-Thames.