Levi Bellfield guilty of Milly Dowler murder

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Levi Bellfield
Image caption,
Levi Bellfield had denied murdering schoolgirl Milly Dowler who vanished from Surrey in 2002

Former nightclub doorman Levi Bellfield has been found guilty of murdering 13-year-old Milly Dowler.

Milly vanished in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, as she walked home from school on 21 March 2002. Her remains were found in Hampshire six months later.

An Old Bailey jury found Bellfield, 43, guilty of abducting and murdering her after she walked past his home.

In 2008 he was convicted of murdering two young women in west London and attempting to murder a third.

Bellfield was also accused of attempting to abduct 11-year-old Rachel Cowles the day before Milly's disappearance.

The jury was sent home and will continue considering its verdict on that charge on Friday.

Milly Dowler was last seen near Bellfield's flat in Collingwood Place, off Station Avenue.

Missing car

Police knocked on his door on 11 occasions, the last of which was on 28 May 2004, but officers never tried to contact the letting agent in an effort to trace him.

Image caption,
Milly lived in Walton Park with her parents Robert and Sally and older sister Gemma

Rachel Cowles' mother Diana rang police when a man in a red car offered her daughter a lift but it was three years before officers interviewed her.

Milly's mother and her sister Gemma, 25, collapsed after hearing the verdict.

They had each broken down in the witness box after it was suggested that Milly had run away or committed suicide because she was unhappy.

At one stage Milly's father, Robert, became a suspect.

'Ludicrous theory'

During his trial, Bellfield refused to give evidence in his defence.

During his closing speech for the prosecution, Brian Altman QC, accused Bellfield of putting Milly's grieving parents on trial and described the 13-year-old as an intelligent girl who was in the top set at school.

He said it was a "ludicrous theory" to suggest Milly had run away and was "dark or depressive".

Bellfield went undetected until his arrest in November 2004 for the murder of French woman Amelie Delagrange.

Image caption,
In 2008 Bellfield was convicted of murdering Marsha McDonnell and Amelie Delagrange

His red Daewoo Nexia car, which was seen turning into Station Road 22 minutes after Milly was last seen, has never been found.

During the trial Bellfield's former partner Emma Mills said he had gone "missing" on the day of Milly's disappearance. The couple had been housesitting for a friend in west London.

When Bellfield returned after 2200 BST he was wearing different clothes from their flat in Walton. He later got up during the night, at about 0300 or 0400 BST, saying he was going back to the flat.

The following day Bellfield told Miss Mills he wanted to move out of the flat back to their former home in West Drayton, west London.

Miss Mills said she thought he had been with another woman because he had destroyed the bed sheets.

Later when she quizzed him about where he had been that day, he said: "What? Do you think I've done Milly?"

Kate Sheedy, who Bellfield tried to kill in 2004, was in court to hear the verdict, along with the parents of Ms Delagrange.

Bellfield, who was wearing a lilac polo shirt, yawned as he was led back to the cells while the jury considered the final charge of attempted abduction.

Mrs Dowler had to be helped from the courtroom by police officers.

Outside the courtroom, Gemma began wailing and shouting "guilty".

Mr Dowler helped to comfort his daughter as the court's matron was called to help both women.

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