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Levi Bellfield: The Serial Killer Who Murdered 13-year-old Milly Dowler

This is the full timeline of events of Levi Bellfield.

By Shauna MullenPublished 5 months ago 20 min read

On May 17th, 1968 Levi Bellfield was born at the West Middlesex Hospital in London to parents of Romani decent Jean and Joseph Bellfield. He had two brother and sisters and was brought up on a southwest London council estate. His father died when he was only 10 years old from Leukaemia so his mother brought him up with his siblings as a single parent.

Levi Bellfield

Trouble started to rise in 1981 when Levi Bellfield got his first conviction for burglary. He was then later convicted in 1990 for assaulting a police officer. He filled his criminal record with many convictions for theft and driving offences in between.

Amanda Jane “Milly” Dowler was a 13-year-old schoolgirl who was reported missing on June 23rd 2001 after she had not been seen since walking along Station Avenue on her way home from school in Walton-on-Thames in Surrey. Following an intense and thorough search, her remains were found on the 18th of September in Yateley Heath Woods in Hampshire. Due to the state of decomposition a cause of death could not be determined and it officially switched from a missing person’s case to a murder inquiry.

Milly Dowler, 13

October 2001 then 17-year-old student, Anna-Maria Rennie was sat alone by a bus stop as she was collecting her thoughts after a late-night argument with her boyfriend. After sitting for around 5 minutes, she started to make her way along Hospital Bridge Road before turning around and going back on herself. She spotted a man coming towards her and felt uneasy about him so she crossed the road. Anna’s attention was then caught by the driver of a passing car and they had a conversation for about 10 minutes. He offered her a ride home and she declined but still made her way towards the car. The man who was following her previously put his arm around her, she screamed and fell to the ground in an attempt to make it difficult. He picked her up off the floor with his hand over her mouth. He walked her towards the car which was parked in a layby with the back passenger door open. She kicked, punched and screamed with all of her might and the man let her go before getting to the car. She ran as fast as she could across the nearby park.

Anna Maria Rennie, 17

February 2003, 19-year-old Marsha McDonnell was found bleeding to death from brutal head injuries on the road only yards away from her home in Hampton in South-west London. She had been beaten severely after she had gotten off the home from a cinema trip with friends. She died two days later in the hospital, a post mortem found that she had suffered multiple skull fractures and a bleed on the brain.

Marsha McDonnell, 19

Irma Dragoshi was waiting at a bus stop on the phone to her husband when she was attacked from behind. Her husband describes hearing his wife scream and then the phone going dead. She told the police that a man had approached her from behind and tried to snatch her mobile phone and then hit her over the head. She suffered from nausea and amneisia. She was left with two black eyes and a terrible lump on the back of her head.

On May 28th 2004, 18-year-old Kate Sheedy had been out at a karaoke bar with her friends celebrating the end of her exams and was on her way home after she caught the H22 bus back to Isleworth. After spotting a white people carrier parked on the road with the engine on, she crossed the road to avoid as she had a bad feeling about it. Once she stepped on to the road, the van sped towards her and hit her face on. After the initial impact, the wheel went over her body and the driver then reversed back over her before speeding off and leaving her for dead on the street. After trying to stand up, she stumbled back onto the ground, unsure of the extensive injuries she had just suffered. Luckily, she managed to call her mother and tell her she was dying. Her parents, left the house, again only yards away, to find her lying in the street with her belongings spread out across the road. They called an ambulance and the true extent of her injuries were revealed at the hospital. Her lower back had been ripped open, her liver was split in two, she had multiple broken ribs and a broken collar bone. Miraculously, she managed to keep breathing and survived even though one of her lungs had collapsed and the other had been punctured. She spent a month in hospital before she was discharged and allowed to continue treatment at home.

Kate Sheedy, 18

August 19th 2004, Amelie Delagrange, a 22-year-old French student who was visiting the UK, was found at Twickenham green, London with serious head injuries and died in hospital the same evening. Within 24 hours, police connected her murder with 19-year-old Marsha McDonnell who had died from similar injuries the year previously.

Amelie Delagrange, 22

After connecting the murders, police appealed for information about a white van which was seen on CCTV circling the area before Amelie’s body was found. There were over 26,000 white ford couriers to eliminate. So, they cross referenced the list of van owners with a strong list of 129 names of women who believed their ex-partner’s could have been involved. They came across Jo Colling’s who reported Levi Bellfield who had come to her the night he killed Amelie in a shaky and frightened state claiming to have done something unforgivable. Levi was a known hater of blonde women and fit the police profile.

They connected Levi Bellfield to Marsha McDonnell’s murder after CCTV footage of the spot showing her getting off the bus before she was attacked showed a Vauxhall Corsa nearby. It was found that Levi had bought for £6000 and registered the car only a few months before her death. In the days following her murder, he sold it for £1500 in an attempt to get rid of any evidence that may connect him. They managed to match his old car to the description of the vehicle involved in the attempted murder of Katy Sheedy.

They put Levi Bellfield under police surveillance and found that he had been patrolling bus stops and talking to young women who were alone. 3 months after Amelie’s murder, he was arrested for not only Amelie Delagrange’s murder but for Marsha McDonnell’s murder too. However, he was not charged until two years later in 2006.

Levi Bellfield began his trial on Friday October 12th 2007. His charges consisted of the murder of Marsh McDonnell and Amelie Delagrange. The attempted murder of Irma Dragoshi and Kate Sheedy and the attempted kidnap of Anna-Marie Rennie. He denied all counts.

During his trial, Sunil Gharu, an apparent associate of Levi Bellfield was questioned as a witness. He stated that he was in the car with Levi when he parked up and exclaimed “watch this” before getting out of the car and attacking Irma Dragoshi at the bus stop. Levi tried to shift blame on this attack and pointed the finger at Sunil Gharu instead.

It was revealed during his trial that only six days after the murder if Amelie Delagrange that Levi Bellfield broke down in his bedroom and took an overdose of anti-depressants in an attempted suicide. He was found by a friend who said that Levi was distraught and claimed he said “You don’t know what I have done.” Levi was admitted to a mental hospital where he told staff he was feeling low and suicidal. He then discharges himself the next day.

All through out the trial, he denied being present at any of the attacks and claimed that his work as a wheel camper gives him access to a variety of cars that other people within his team can also use so vehicles being registered to him found close to the scene was just a coincidence. Levi Bellfield appealed to the jury and claimed to be a victim of mistaken identity.

Despite all of his efforts to warp the story of what actually happened during his trial, the jury found him guilty on 25th of February 2008 for the murder of Amelie Delagrange and Marsha McDonnell and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy. The jury failed to reach verdicts on the charges of attempted kidnap on Anna-Maria Rennie and the attempted murder of Irma Dragoshi. Levi Bellfield did not turn up for his sentencing but was given a whole life term.

On the 10th of May 2011, Levi Bellfield was put on trial again for the murder of Milly Dowler and the attempted abduction of Rachel Cowles. The day before Milly Dowler went missing, 11-year-old Rachel Cowles was walking home from school by herself when Levi Bellfield approached her in a red car claiming to be her new neighbour and offered her a ride home. He drove away when she rejected him and a police car drove past. This was only three miles away from where Milly Dowler went missing the next day. When Rachel told her mother what happened when she got home, she phoned the police but Rachel was too shaken up to give a description of the man who attempted to get her in his car. Police did not take a statement from them until three years later after they started to connect Levi Bellfield with the disappearance of Milly Dowler.

Rachel Cowles, 11

During trial, it emerges that Levi Bellfield’s family were not home the day of Milly Dowler’s disappearance and his ex-partner Emma Mills remembers being unable to get hold of him that day which was unusual. Standing as a witness in trial, she recalled how he was wearing different clothes to the one’s he had on when she left in the morning and he had told her that he was spending the night at a different address the couple lived in, when Emma arrived there, the bed had no sheets, duvet or pillow cases on. It was evident nobody had slept in the bed. The day after Milly Dowler’s disappearance, Levi Bellfield moves his family out of the Collingwood address that he supposedly stayed in and hastily moves them to West Drayton.

The red Daewoo Nexia that Levi was driving at the time and is known to be part of the attempted abduction of Rachel Cowles was seen leaving the area Milly Dowler was last seen only 22 minutes after her disappearance.

Timeline of Milly Dowler's disappearance

In some kind of power move from Levi Bellfield, he told the judge that he would not be giving evidence in his defence. Instead, his defence team took the opportunity to put Milly Dowler’s parents, Bob and Sally Dowler on trial. They mentioned that Bob Dowler was a suspect in her murder at on point in the police investigation and even disclose a note that was written by Milly when she was alive to prove she was an unhappy teenager that wanted to run away from her family. Levi Bellfield was found guilty of her murder on 23 June 2011 and was sentenced to another whole life term.

In 2016, Levi Bellfield gave full confessions on the murders he committed. He finally gave details on what happened to Milly Dowler. He explained that he abducted her in his car and took her to his flat close to the Walton railway station where he assaulted her. He then drove her to the driveway of his own mother’s home and raped her in broad daylight over the boot of his car. He continued with the cycle of assaulting her until the next day when he strangled her and dumped her body in the woods.

Since Levi Bellfield’s imprisonment, police have looked back at old cases and believe he could be involved in some of their unsolved murders and assaults. A senior social worker released a report that stated Levi was connected to six other men who are accused of paedophilia, grooming and murder. Some of them were named to be Victor Kelly, a man who has been convicted of child sex offences and was found to being giving drugs to girls under the age of 14 in an attempt to manipulate them. Suraj Gharu, a 25 year old man who was convicted of luring a 14-year-old girl from a children’s home and lured her into sexual activity with him. Suraj’s brother, Sunil Gharu, actually stood as a witness in Levi Bellfield’s original murder trial and was jailed himself after he gave police a false statement in an attempt to cover for his brother. He was jailed for 9 months for perverting the course of justice.

After Levi Bellfield’s conviction in 2008, police revealed they were reviewing the murder of 51-year-old Judith Gold in Hampstead in October 19909. She had died yards away from her home after being attacked and hit several times in the face with an unidentified object which had surprising similarities to cases Bellfield is known to be responsible for. Police believe that he is responsible for another 20 unsolved attacks on women in London which took place between 1990 and 2004. They were all linked to Levi Bellfield because the police researched the frequency of blunt-force trauma attacks on women and children using objects such as hammers and found they were so rare that only one unsolved attack in Greater London during that time period could realistically be ruled out as being the work of Bellfield.

Police were informed in early 2015 that Levi Bellfield had admitted to several unsolved rape and murder cases. The Metropolitan police co-ordinated several investigations with 10 separate teams. On November 9th 2016, a statement was issued which said: “All lines of inquiry had been exhausted and the decision has been taken to close the investigations as there is no evidence to link the individual to any case for which he has not already been convicted.” Police believe he only gave those confessions so he could inflict pain on the victims families.

Whilst in prison, Levi Bellfield has confessed in a letter to murdering a mother and her children in July of 1996 with details only the killer would know according to the solicitors of another inmate Michael Stone. Dr Lin Russell, 45, and her two daughters, Josie, 9 and Megan, 6, and the family dof were walking home from swimming at around 4:20PM down a country lane. A car passed them and Josie waved to the driver in the car. As they walked further down the road, the car was parked across from them. The man got out of the car with a hammer and demanded money from them. The mother, Lin, had left her money and purse at the house so offered to take him back to their home where she would give him money and he refused. She then told Josie to run to the nearest house to get help. The man grabbed 9-year-old Josie and hit her over the head with the hammer. He then walked the three of them and the dog into a small gathering of trees where he tied them up with strips torn from Josie’s blue swimming towel, a bootlace and a pair of tights. After killing the family dog, Lin was hit over the head at least 15 times which caused severe head trauma and killed her. Josie’s skull was smashed, which left her brain tissue exposed and there were several cuts on her skull. 6-year-old Megan had been hit at least 7 times and suffered massive skull fractures. The attacker then got back into his car and drove back along the way he had come. Half an hour later, a man was spotted a mile away from the murder scene acting agitated. He dropped a string bag filled with towel strips covered with blood. Josie survived the attack but her mother and little sister, Megan, unfortunately died before help got there.

(Left) Megan Russell, 6, (Middle) Lin Russell, 45, (Right) Josie Russell, 9

In July 1997, 37-year-old Michael Stone was arrested for the murders after tip-offs that came from the showing of a television programme called Crimewatch. A psychiatrist called to report his suspicions of stone along with two nursing staff members who also named Michael Stone as a possible. The medical staff phone in and reported that they had worked with him only days before the attack took place. They described him as being aggressive and threatening to kill people and their families. He had also threatened his probation officer with a hammer. He was found to have no alibi for the day of the murders because he had taken too many drugs and it had been around a year so he couldn’t remember. During his trial, he maintained his innocence and stated he can not remember where he was. A receipt shown in trial shows that he was definitely at a cash converters in Chatham at 12:21pm that day, which was 40 miles away from the murder scene.

Michael Stone, 37

Michael Stone had told police he had never heard of the area Chillenden where the murders took place but many of friends testified that he knew the area like the back of his hand. It was revealed that he had spent time at the Eastry children’s home only 2 miles away from the murder scene as a child. The prosecution could not establish any reasoning for Stone being in that area as he lived over 40 miles away but argued that because he financed his drug habit by robbing homes that he was responsible for the theft that went wrong with the Russell’s. Police found that a lawnmower had been stolen from a cottage only a couple of hundred yards away from the murders and Michael Stone had tried to sell a lawnmower in the days after the murders. His friends testified that he was known to carry a hammer in his car due to his heroin addiction.

A key witness in the Russell murders was a woman who was driving on the adjacent road at the time of the killings. She said she had seen a man emerge quickly from the junction by the murder site in a beige car. She could tell he was angry and he kept looking back at her in his wind mirrors. This was the same woman who helped police with a sketch of the suspect during the investigation. Another witness recounted driving past a man acting strangely close by. He wasn’t in a vehicle but he was walking back and forth in frustration with a claw hammer in his hand. A third witness stated he saw a beige Ford Escort parked by some bushes nearby and when he walked his dog in the same area half hour later, he found the string bag full of bloody towel strips. Michael Stone was never registered driving a beige Ford Escort and was registered as having a white Toyota Tercel at the time of the crime. However, friends of Michael Stone testified during trial that he did used to drive a beige car matching the one from the scene. Strangely, the only witness known to have definitely seen the attacker, Jodie Russell, maintained that he drove a red car and Stone admitted to owning a red car.

At the scene, a bloody fingerprint was found on the lid of Josie’s lunch box and hairs were found that did not belong to any of the victims. A black bootlace that was bloodstained and had been used in the attack. Michael Stone was known to use a bootlace as a tourniquet to raise the veins in his arms when injecting drugs. The items found at the scene were tested and came back with no link to Stone. A hammer was found near the scene of the attack but could not be determined as the murder weapon. The day after the attack, Michael Stone’s friends remember his clothes being bloodstained and he was refusing to enter their homes like usual. They also saw bloodstained toolbox in his car and on a blue sweatshirt although there were no marks on Stone himself. Shortly after this, associates claim that he removed all the bloodstained items and clothes from his car and burned it all.

He pleaded not guilty in his first trial in 1998 but he was convicted on the testimony of a witness called Damian Daley who claimed that Michael Stone confessed to him while in prison during a conversation through a heating pipe at the back of their cells. He is known to have attempted suicide at least twice in prison around the times that the supposed confessions had taken place. Another two prisoners also testified during trial that Michael had suggested he had been involved. Due to no physical evidence of Michael Stone being at the scene of the crime, he was convicted solely on the testimony of other prison inmates. The jury took nearly 15 hours over two days and found him guilty by a 10-2 majority verdict.

Damian Daley

The court of appeal ordered a retrial in February 2001 after two out of the three prisoners who testified had their evidence discredited. Within 24 hours of Michael Stone’s first trial one of the prisoners who gave key evidence admitted that he lied about Stone confessing to him and retracted his evidence. It was also found that one of the other prisoners who had given evidence had been paid £5000 by the sun and was promised a further £10000 before he gave his evidence which deemed his statement as unreliable.

Despite all of this, Michael Stone was convicted a second time in 2001 with the jury taking less time than the first time to find him guilty. As part of his trial, the jury visited the prison cells where Michael Stone allegedly confessed to Damien Daley and listened as a book was read through the pipe joining the two cells to judge whether the confession could have been plausible. Michael Stone’s lawyers argued against this and stated that it was unfair.

He was granted leave to appeal again in 2004 when his lawyers claimed that Damien Daley’s testimony was unreliable but this was rejected in 2005 when the judge remained unconvinced by evidence that his lawyers argued undermined Damien Daley’s statements. In December 2006 a high court judge decided that Michael Stone should spend at least 25 years in prison before being considered for parole.

In February 2022, Michael Stone’s lawyers claimed to have received a 4 page letter from Levi Bellfield admitting to the Russell murders that contained details. However, Levi Bellfield has denied this outright and his ex-girlfriend is adamant that Levi spent the day with her when the murders took place. After investigating the possibility it could have been Levi Bellfield they have determined the confession he gave was false and the detail’s didn’t consist of anything that wasn’t already in the public domain and he most probably fabricated a story based on known evidence. The detective responsible for investigating Bellfield’s known crimes stated: “Knowing Bellfield as I do, this could be him playing mind games.”

I think it is safe to say that Levi Bellfield is rightfully behind bars and should stay there. He most probably has assaulted and killed other people that will never be revealed as he loves to hold the power and play with people’s emotions. I don’t think he was involved in the murders of Lin and Megan Russell however, I do believe that particular case should be looked into further as the evidence Michael Stone was convicted on seems circumstantial at best.

Levi Bellfield was confirmed to have converted to Islam while behind bars and demands to be known as Yusuf Rahim since finding his religion IN 2016. He is currently serving his sentence in HMP Frankland and he has proposed to his girlfriend he met whilst in jail in May 2022. However, Dominic Raab has stated that granting his request of marriage is inconceivable as there are large safety concerns for his partner. The prison’s minister, Victoria Atkins, said: “I just want to reassure people, I understand an application has been made that has not been decided yet, and he most certainly has not married yet, but, if I may, he’s currently got the right under article 12 of the Human Rights Act to get married or they have the right to have the application to be considered by prison governors. It’s absolutely appalling. I’ve ordered an immediate review into this. I very much welcome the debate we’re about to have about the bill of rights and looking at human rights for the United Kingdom for the 21st century. Believe me, I will be raising this.”

For more true crime:

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About the Creator

Shauna Mullen

I like to write about true crime and do small investigations. I also write fiction sometimes

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (4)

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  • Rick Henry Christopher5 months ago

    Very written filled with a lot of excellent details. Great job!

  • Cathy holmes5 months ago

    Good article

  • Informative article but worried that people like this are used to destroy our human rights. Excellent article, and people like this should be behind bars. Let him get married by t don't let him out

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