Family attack British justice after Milly Dowler case

24th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The family of the victim of a triple killer launched a bitter attack on the British justice system on Friday after their daughter's murderer was told he will spend the rest of his life in jail.

Milly Dowler's family also criticised the initial police investigation which failed to catch Levi Bellfield, who went on to murder two more victims including French woman Amelie Delagrange.

Bellfield was convicted Thursday of abducting and murdering 13-year-old Milly after she walked past his home in Walton-on-Thames, near London, in 2002. Her bones were found six months later in a forest.

Milly's schoolteacher mother Sally welcomed Bellfield's conviction at the Old Bailey in London but said the trial had been a "truly awful experience" for her family.

Milly's sister Gemma said the day her parents were questioned by Bellfield's lawyer in court was the "worst day of my life" adding: "It feels like we were the criminals and we were on trial."

Bob Dowler, Milly's father, said his family had had to pay "too high a price" for Bellfield's conviction, saying the trial had been a "mentally scarring process" and the justice system was loaded unfairly in favour of the criminal.

Bellfield, a former nightclub doorman who is already serving a whole-life sentence for two murders and an attempted murder, was given an unprecedented second whole-life jail term.

The jury deliberating over whether Bellfield had tried to snatch another young girl had to be dismissed because of adverse media publicity which his lawyers argued had prejudiced his case.

Milly's mother and sister had to be carried from the courtroom on Thursday after wailing and screaming before collapsing when the jury delivered its guilty verdict.

It emerged during the trial that police had initially made Milly's father the prime suspect.

For Bob Dowler, a 59-year-old IT management consultant, there was the added humiliation of having to admit in court that he had an interest in bondage sex and used pornography, a fact that Milly had discovered.

The 13-year-old felt let down by her father, which led police to suspect he may have killed her.

Milly's parents were also cross-examined in court on who their favourite daughter was after police discovered letters she had written to her parents but never delivered in which she signed off as "your little disappointment".

Among mistakes in the investigation, police had called 11 times at Bellfield's flat but failed to trace the occupants.

The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, admitted the case had raised "fundamental questions" about the treatment of victims and witnesses in the courts system.

© 2011 AFP

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