Pub chef jailed for 34 years for murder of teenage model

A pub chef with a history of sex offences and violence against women must serve at least 34 years of a life term for the murder of the 18-year-old aspiring model, Sally Anne Bowman.

Her family cheered in the public gallery of the Old Bailey yesterday as the jury pronounced the verdict on Mark Dixie, 37, after four hours of deliberation. He gave only a slight shake of his head.

Dixie, of no fixed abode, struck as the girl returned home from a night out. He stabbed her seven times then had sex with her dead or dying body yards from her house in Croydon, Surrey. He had claimed he had not killed Ms Bowman, but admitted having sex with her corpse.

Before the sentencing Ms Bowman's mother, Linda, had read an impact statement to the court. She said: "There is so much I never got to tell her. I need to feel her soft skin and smell her favourite perfume. My heart will never mend, not even with time. I cannot ever see things getting easier. I lost the will to live when she was taken away from me in such a brutal and depraved way."

Referring to Dixie, Mrs Bowman wept as she added: "I cannot see why he killed her and why he did what he did. It was bad enough knowing Sally Anne had been stabbed to death but then to be told that after death he raped her and stole her belongings. It leaves me feeling he took her last bit of dignity. Please can you ask him why he did kill her? Why did you do these things?"

As Judge Gerald Gordon read out the sentence he told Dixie: "I shall only say that what you did that night was so awful and repulsive that I do not propose to repeat it. Your consequent conduct shows you had not the slightest remorse for what you had done."

Ms Bowman had been returning from a night out in Croydon with her sister, Nicole, early on 25 September 2005, and was dropped off by her boyfriend, Lewis Sproston.

Dixie had been celebrating his birthday that night with an alcohol- and drug-fuelled bender at a friend's house on Avondale Road, south Croydon. He had left the house at 2.30am and was apparently prowling the streets looking for sex.

At about 4.25am he saw Ms Bowman outside her home on Blenheim Crescent, moments after Mr Sproston drove away. He stabbed the teenager seven times then raped her on her driveway, took her underwear and handbag and returned to his friend's house.

Despite previous convictions for sex attacks on women in the UK and in Australia, Dixie had escaped justice for nine months because his DNA was not on the police database. He was caught only after he was arrested for his part in a minor scuffle at during a World Cup 2006 football match at Ye Olde Six Bells pub in Horley, Surrey, where he was working. He was required to provide a DNA sample. Twelve days later, the police database matched him to the murderer.

But he continued to protest his innocence and detectives are said to be furious that he forced Ms Bowman's family to sit through the gruesome evidence. His refusal to admit the crime also meant two previous victims had to give evidence against him, re-living attacks he had committed years before. Officers believe Dixie had a vicarious thrill hearing details of his crimes being retold in court by his victims.

Detective Superintendent Stuart Cundy said: "Dixie has made his victims relive horrific ordeals. He made Sally Anne's family sit through horrific evidence." Police believe Dixie could be responsible for other unsolved or unreported sex attacks.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable