Survivor celebrates as bus-stop killer is given maximum jail term

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The Independent Online

In what his victims' relatives described as a final act of cowardice, Levi Bellfield refused to turn up in court yesterday to hear that he would serve the rest of his life in jail for murdering two young students and trying to kill another.

The unrepentant and calculating predator who taunted families of the women he killed by pulling faces and yawning throughout the trial was not in the dock to hear statements which described their "unimagined grief".

Many in the public gallery, including police officers, were reduced to tears as Dominique Delagrange spoke of how her world fell apart when her daughter Amelie was bludgeoned to death in August 2004. "Her loss is an open wound that will never heal. We shall never get over it," said Mme Delagrange.

Bellfield, 39, who preyed on young women at bus stops, was found guilty on Monday of murdering Marsha McDonnell, 19, and Amelie Delagrange, 22, and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy, 18.

Yesterday Mrs Justice Rafferty ordered that he join just three dozen other killers in serving a whole life term for his crimes. He would never be considered for parole, she added.

Bellfield, who is also the prime suspect for the murder of 13-year-old Milly Dowler six years ago and could have targeted at least 20 other victims, hated women and blondes in particular. The four-month trial at the Old Bailey heard how the former wheel clamper, who has 11 children, would pick off his victims around bus stops near his home in west London and followed buses late at night looking for vulnerable young women. If they turned down his offer of a lift, he reacted with rage.

Miss McDonnell was struck over the head with a hammer a few feet from her home in Hampton in February 2003 and left to die on the pavement.

More than a year later Bellfield stalked Kate Sheedy, a convent school head girl, as she got off a bus near her house in Isleworth. When she crossed the road to avoid him, Bellfield aimed his vehicle at her and ran her over, reversing back over the girl to make sure she was dead. The teenager survived to give evidence against him.

Then, in August 2004, Bellfield followed Miss Delagrange as she walked back towards her home in Twickenham Green after getting off at the wrong bus stop. She was battered over the head with a heavy instrument. "Marsha's murder was an act of pure evil, an innocent girl attacked from behind with no motive, no reason and no justification," said her uncle Shane McDonnell. "To lose a child to such a barbaric act of violence that has no reason just compounds that grief further."

Mrs Justice Rafferty told Bellfield: "You have reduced three families to unimagined grief. The words the court heard were hard for many an experienced professional to bear."

Bellfield was not in court, his barrister said, because he was bothered by "bad publicity" and "accusations of other crimes".

Surrey Police have renewed their witness appeal in the case of Milly Dowler who was found dead after disappearing from Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in 2002.