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Milly Dowler's killer linked to 24 violent attacks against women in two decades before prison

Data collected by police unit has never been released until now

Rachael Revesz
Sunday 06 August 2017 13:03 BST
Bellfield admitted to killing Dowler in 2016 but has since retracted his confession
Bellfield admitted to killing Dowler in 2016 but has since retracted his confession

The convicted murderer of schoolgirl Milly Dowler is suspected to have carried out at least 24 violent assaults against women in the 20 years before he was sent to prison.

Levi Bellfield, who was convicted of killing 13-year-old Dowler in 2002, is reportedly linked to a series of unprovoked attacks across London, Surrey, Middlesex, Sussex and Lancashire.

The data was collated by the National Crime Agency and reported by The Sunday Times.

The new possible crimes include six rapes of teenage girls, three rapes of older women, an attempted murder, one kidnap, an indecent assault and three hammer attacks, the newspaper reported, which would make Bellfield one of the UK’s most prolific attackers against women.

Two suspected victims called the Metropolitan police to report that they had been clubbed over the head while walking alone.

One victim was Sarah Spurrell, who was hit over the head three times when she was walking to a friend’s house in Hastings in 2004.

Police reportedly suspected Bellfield, but did not inform Ms Spurrell and dropped the investigation when he was convicted of murder.

Another woman was hit from behind at an empty petrol station in 1994 in Hinchley Wood, Surrey.

It has also been reported that after Bellfield attempted to kill 18-year-old Kate Sheedy in 2004 in west London, that police reviewed CCTV footage from the wrong night, which then allowed Bellfield to murder his third victim.

The attack on Ms Sheedy in Isleworth took place just after midnight, but officers only asked for footage of the previous night.

Bellfield then murdered 22-year-old French exchange student Amélie Delagrange just three months later in August 2004.

The Sunday Times reported it took six months for police to review the correct tape, during which they saw Bellfield’s car.

“There is no doubt that spotting the vehicle earlier could have saved Amélie,” former detective chief inspector Colin Sutton told The Sunday Times.

“There was an intelligence report linking him to the Previa [car]. He hadn’t registered it in his name, but he had been stopped by police in it.”

Mr Sutton said he went to France to personally apologise to Delagrange’s parents.

“It’s much better to be honest about these things, so I went to meet with them in Paris. They were incredibly accepting of the mistake. They said that mistakes happen and people are only human. It was amazing, really.”

Bellfield reversed his car over Ms Sheedy on the evening that she had been celebrating her final day at Gumley House Convent School, where she was head girl.

The attack resulted in a ruptured liver, punctured lung, broken ribs and collar bone, but she managed to crawl home and give police a description of Bellfield’s car.

Bellfield, who used to work as a wheel clamper and is father to 11 children, is appealing his 2010 conviction for murdering Dowler, one year after he finally confessed.

He was also found guilty of murdering Delagrange and 19-year-old Marsha McDonnell, who were bludgeoned to death, and of attempting to kill Ms Sheedy.

Bellfield was also tried for two of the unsolved cases, including the attempted murder of Irma Dragoshi, then 33, in West London, and the kidnap of Anna-Maria Rennie, 17. The jury did not reach a verdict.

Bellfield is being held in Durham’s high security prison HMP Frankland, where he is serving life without parole.

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