Nightclub doorman battered women to death, court hears

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A night-club doorman who preyed on vulnerable women coming off night buses brutally battered two to death, tried to murder two more and attempted to kidnap another, a court heard yesterday.

Levi Bellfield, 39, from West Drayton in London, stands accused of carrying out the five attacks during a three-year period from October 2001 to August 2004. The two killings – of Amelie Delagrange, and Marsha McDonnell, 19 – were widely publicised at the time they occurred.

Both were bludgeoned to death while returning home late at night after seeing friends. Ms Delagrange was a French student who had moved to London to improve her English. She died from severe head injuries after missing her bus stop and walking back to Twickenham Green. Ms McDonnell died yards from her front door in Hampton.

The Old Bailey also heard how Anna-Maria Rennie, 17, and Kate Sheedy, a former convent school head girl, managed to survive assaults, but were "absolutely petrified". Ms Rennie had gone for a walk in Twickenham, west London, to calm down after a row with her boyfriend when she saw two men in a dark blue Ford Mondeo near a bus stop, the court was told. One man got out, grabbing and lifting her off her feet, before she managed to escape. "Naturally, she was extremely scared," said the prosecutor, Brian Altman. "As he tried to get her to the car, despite being absolutely petrified, she kicked and struggled violently."

"Five women, four of them young women aged between 17 and 22, were violently attacked," Mr Altman said. "Two of these young women were brutally murdered by being battered about the head with a blunt instrument. There are such similarities between the offences that the chances of them having been committed by two or more men working independently can safely and sensibly be excluded."

He added: "These women were targeted victims of a predatory man who stalked bus stops and bus routes in vehicles looking for young women to attack."

Ms Sheedy, then 18, was walking home after getting off a bus in Isleworth following a night out in May 2004, when she was hit by a car which reversed back over her.

Bellfield's last alleged victim was Irma Dragoshi who was attacked in West Drayton, in December, 2003. She was left suffering from amnesia.

Mr Altman described how the killer used the well-lit night-buses to seek out his targets. "Although the lighting inside the buses was intended to help passengers, it would also come to have a more sinister purpose which could never have been foreseen," he said. "It allowed the attacker of these women to see into the bus from the outside. Thus these women were not chance victims of a street attacker. These women were targeted victims of a predatory man."

Mr Bellfield denies the charges. The case continues.