After yesterday’s excursion
to Levi Bellfield’s old apartment and the road where Amanda Dowler was last seen alive, the jury returned to Court 8 at the Central Criminal Court. According to the listing office, the case was adjourned until 10.30am.
Bellfield is accused of the kidnap and murder of the thirteen year old, and the attempted kidnap of another schoolgirl. Today, the jury heard from the young woman who was that girl.
On March 20, 2002, Rachel Cowles was just shy of her 12th birthday when on her walk home from school a red car pulled up beside her. Through the open window, the driver said
: “Hello. I have just moved in next door. Would you like a lift home?”
After she declined, the man drove off. On the basis of that conversation, Levi Bellfield was charged with her attempted kidnap. Ordinarily, such a charge might sound extreme, but not to anyone au fait
with the background to this case, because if the driver of that car was indeed Levi Bellfield, her polite but firm refusal unquestionably saved her life.
In February 2003, 19 year old Marsha McDonnell died in hospital after being battered over the head at Hampton, South West London. On August 19 the following year, French student Amelie Delagrange died in similar circumstances. Between these dates, eighteen year old Kate Sheedy was hit by a car late at night; the driver then reversed over her leaving her with life-threatening injuries, though miraculously she survived. In February 2008, Bellfield was convicted of all these crimes
. After his conviction, Surrey Police built a case against him for the murder of Amanda Dowler, and last year he was charged
with her kidnap and murder, and the attempted kidnapping of Rachel Cowles.
In her evidence today, Miss Cowles said that when she arrived home that day, she looked around for the car parked near her home, but it was not there. She told her mother, who phoned the police, but no connection appears to have been made with the disappearance of Amanda Dowler the following day. Three years later, Rachel’s mother wrote direct to the Chief Constable after watching a televised appeal.
Although she failed to identify Bellfield positively at a later date, Miss Cowles told the court today "He was white. My impression was that he was in his 30s to 40s. He was skin-headed or bald. His head was rather chubby. He had a gold hoop earring in his left ear.”
Her mother also testified, and denied that she or her daughter had been prompted or influenced by media reports. The trial continues on Monday.