Saturday 10 December 2016

Milly guilty verdict sparks questions on police probe

Victims' families say further deaths could have been prevented

Mark Hughes in London

Published 24/06/2011 | 05:00

THE families of two women murdered by Levi Bellfield after he killed Milly Dowler have questioned whether their daughters would still be alive were it not for errors in the police investigation into Milly's disappearance.

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Bellfield was yesterday found guilty of abducting and murdering the 13-year-old as she walked home from school in March 2002. His conviction brings a close to one of Britain's most notorious unsolved murder cases.

The 43-year-old already has convictions for murdering Marsha McDonnell (19) and Amelie Delagrange (22) both of whom he attacked in the years after he killed Milly.

Errors

During the trial into Milly's death, failings in Surrey Police's investigation were heard which have now led the families of Miss McDonnell and Miss Delagrange to question whether the errors left Bellfield free to kill their daughters.

"I think if that investigation had been handled properly my daughter would still be alive," said Phil McDonnell, whose daughter Marsha was murdered by Bellfield a year after he had killed Milly.

The trial heard that police visited Bellfield's flat 11 times before they got a response, by which time a new tenant had moved in. But they did not attempt to contact the letting agent to discover who had lived there at the time of the murder.

If they had they would have discovered the flat -- which was 50 yards from where Milly was last seen -- was rented by Emma Mills, Bellfield's then partner.

The oversight meant Bellfield's name did not enter the inquiry into Milly's death until November 2004. By that time he had murdered Miss McDonnell and Miss Delagrange and had attempted to kill Kate Sheedy (18).

Yesterday the McDonnell family called for an inquiry into the Surrey force's handling of the Milly investigation. "I do think there should be an investigation," added Mr McDonnell.

Amelie Delagrange's parents also questioned Surrey's investigation. Her mother Dominique Delagrange said: "It's true there is the question that if the same thorough investigation had been carried out in the case of Milly, then Marsha and Amelie would still be alive."

Miss McDonnell was murdered in February 2003. Miss Delagrange was killed in August 2004.. Miss Sheedy was attacked in May 2004.

The jury is still deliberating on another charge of attempted abduction against Bellfield. It is alleged that he tried to lure Rachel Cowles into his car the day before he abducted Milly.

Irish Independent

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