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article imageLevi Bellfield murder trial – day six Special

By Alexander Baron     May 17, 2011 in Crime
A report on day six of the trial of Levi Bellfield for the murder of Amanda Jane Dowler including some notes on day five by Matthew Rudge.
The defence strategy in the trial of Levi Bellfield for the attempted kidnapping of schoolgirl Rachel Cowles and the kidnap and murder of Amanda Dowler has now become clear. Yesterday, Jeffrey Samuels QC came close to accusing Amanda’s father of murdering his own daughter; now it appears that the jury is being asked to believe she may not have been murdered, that she ran away and perhaps died accidentally or by her own hand.
The incident involving Rachel Cowles cannot be dismissed because it was reported to the police at the time and logged, although no witness statements were taken from Rachel and her mother until 2005, after a televised appeal; here the defence is suggesting mistaken identity, which will undoubtedly be stressed more emphatically when Mr Samuels makes his closing speech. The case is expected to last up to another seven weeks.
Amanda Jane Dowler known also as Millie/Milly Dowler was thirteen years old when she literally vanished off the face of the Earth at Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, on her way home from school, March 21, 2002. Her skeletal remains were found six months later in woodland some twenty-five miles away. Although a positive forensic identification was made, two autopsies failed to determine the cause of death.
Today, saw her mother Sally take the stand, and it proved to be a traumatic ordeal for her; after her testimony she was helped in tears from the witness box by an usher into the waiting arms of her husband Bob. The couple were escorted from the courtroom by a police woman.
Mrs Dowler who had been a teacher at her daughter’s school in Weybridge, was first reduced to tears by a defence suggestion that she had favoured her older daughter Gemma over Millie.
Asked about some poems and a "goodbye" letter Millie had written – which might at a push be taken for a suicide note – Mrs Dowler said that girls of her daughter’s age often wrote things of that nature in their diaries. These documents were unearthed as part of the initial missing person investigation, and neither Mrs Dowler nor her husband had ever seen them before. Mrs Dowler denied any suggestion that Millie was suicidal or considering running away from home.
The case continues tomorrow.
The notes below – on yesterday’s proceedings – were made by Matthew Rudge, who was present in the courtroom. Mr Rudge is an acclaimed documentary maker whose credits include My Dad, The Serial Killer, the story of Levi Bellfield’s children. It should be pointed out that Levi Bellfield is technically not a serial killer, although if he is convicted of murdering Millie Dowler, he will be.
Rachel Cowles gave a solid performance as a witness. She described her recollection of being offered a lift home by a man who claimed to be her new next door neighbour. The man, she said, had a "fat head" a "chubby face" and was "balding or skinhead, with a gold hoop earring in his left ear"
As she walked home from school, which the day before Milly Dowler was eventually kidnapped, a red car pulled up along side her. She recalled the vehicle being slightly smaller than her family Rover. She said the back seat was covered in around 20 magazines and also had two child seats. One pink, one blue and green, which gave her the impression it was for a baby boy and baby girl. After a police car passed, the car drove off.
When she got home she found no neighbour had such a car, and told her mother, who rang the police.
The police never visited Rachel or the family that day after the alleged attempted kidnap. The call was logged and no further action was taken.
It was not until 3 years later, when Rachel and her mother had seen the Police released CCTV footage of a red car wanted in connection with Milly Dowler's disappearance, that the mother had contacted Surrey police again to remind them of their incident the day previously. Spotting the obvious link, they visited Rachel to take a statement.
Defence were suggesting the intervening 3 years afterwards discredited it as a reliable recollection, and that the subsequent media and the CCTV released by police would have altered her recollection. Rachel was adamant and repeatedly said ' No.' this was not the case.
However, in the original call logs, the mother had said the attempted kidnapper may have had 'a beard'. This was not in any subsequent statement, and the defence made great detail out of how this 'beard' had suddenly disappeared or was never mentioned again.
However, Rachel denied ever saying such a thing, and that her mother, in the panic may have said it, but that was never the case and was not in her witness statement.
More about Murder, Levi Bellfield, Amanda Dowler, Milly, Millie
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