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article imageOp-Ed: Serial killer to appeal murder conviction

By Alexander Baron     Feb 7, 2012 in Crime
London - Triple killer Levi Bellfield is to appeal his latest conviction. The news was reported by the BBC among others, but even if he is granted leave to appeal, he won't be back on the streets anytime soon.
Levi Bellfield is unquestionably one of the most dangerous men ever to prowl the streets in London and the Home Counties. Last year he was convicted of the March 2002 murder of schoolgirl Amanda Dowler, who was also in the news when it was revealed her mobile phone had been hacked during what was then a missing person investigation. The revelation led to a personal apology to her parents by Rupert Murdoch and the closure of the News Of The World.
The case against Bellfield appeared to be largely circumstantial but a documentary released shortly after his conviction showed it was a lot stronger than it appeared to the casual browser.
Tomorrow, Bellfield's appeal will be heard by three judges at the Court of Appeal presided over by the Lord Chief Justice himself. Those who are au fait with appeal procedure will realise this is a renewed application. An appeal is decided initially by a single judge who may grant leave on the papers alone. If this application is refused - as is clearly the case here - it can be renewed to the full court, when the appellant or more often his Counsel will be granted an oral hearing. And if that is turned down, that is the end of the road barring a referral by the Criminal Cases Review Commission at a later date, or some exceptional circumstance.
In the unlikely event of Bellfield being granted leave to appeal, there would definitely be a retrial, which would take anything from a year to perhaps three years or more to arrange, and even if he were to be acquitted he would still never be freed because of his convictions for the murders of two other young women and the attempted murder of schoolgirl Kate Sheedy. Surrey Police in particular spent millions of pounds and countless man hours to bring Bellfield to book, a price that was worth every penny and every minute.
Realistically, his chances of a successful appeal are somewhere between zero and minus one, because at trial his experienced Counsel Jeffrey Samuels QC defended his odious client with considerable vigour. Mr Samuels came in for some strong and totally unwarranted criticism after the trial, his strategy though means that Bellfield has had his day in court, and tomorrow the Court of Appeal is unlikely to find fault with either the judge's summing up or with any of the trial's procedures.
Although he is unlikely to face any further charges, there is no doubt that he committed other crimes, but sadly Kent Police have no plans to reinvestigate any possible connection to the Chillenden Murders, which is hardly surprising after the way they orchestrated the framing of Michael Stone. There is though likely to be at least one interesting and very public development in the case of the man whose name literally spells EVIL. Acclaimed documentary maker Matthew Rudge is working on a new book about him.
A timeline of Bellfield's life and crimes can be found here.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about Levi Bellfield, Murder, Amanda Dowler, Jeffrey Samuels QC, Court of Appeal
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