UK

Milly Dowler killer Levi Bellfield 'controlling and evil'

Levi Bellfield
Image caption Bellfield has now been convicted of killing three women

Former nightclub bouncer Levi Bellfield, convicted of killing 13-year-old Milly Dowler in 2002, was described as "controlling and evil" by detectives.

He was already serving life sentences for the murders of Marsha McDonnell and Amelie Delagrange, and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy.

But what is known about a man who stalked the streets, attacking lone women?

Bellfield is by all accounts a charismatic and charming man - but he can change in a flash, say police.

"When we started dealing with him he came across as very jokey, like he's your best mate," said now-retired Det Ch Insp Colin Sutton, who led the investigation into Ms McDonnell and Ms Delagrange's murders.

"But he's a cunning individual, violent. He can switch from being nice to being nasty, instantly."

Born and raised in west London, Bellfield, 43, prowled for victims on streets he knew intimately.

Detectives believe he could be responsible for a number of other attacks, other than those he has been convicted of.

He had lived in, had family in, or had business links with, all the locations where his attacks took place.

'Controlling womaniser'

Despite his unattractive appearance in the dock - overweight, with a shaved head and a squeaky voice - he was reputedly a womaniser, fathering 11 children by five women.

Detectives tracked down a number of ex-girlfriends, who all described a similar pattern of behaviour when they got involved with him.

"He was lovely at first, charming, then completely controlling and evil. They all said the same," said Det Sgt Jo Brunt, who also worked on the first investigation and spoke to several of Bellfield's ex-girlfriends.

After a couple of weeks of them being together, Bellfield would take their mobile phone and swap it with another which contained only his number, saying it was all they needed.

He would then stop them from seeing friends, parents or going out without his permission, and would constantly phone to check what they were doing.

One girlfriend said, following an argument, he told her to sit on a stool in the kitchen and not move. He went to bed and she sat there all night.

Det Sgt Brunt said: "We asked her what she did about going to the toilet and she said she would rather wet herself than have moved from that stool. That shows how frightened they were of him."

'Big fat lump'

The trial for Ms Dowler's murder heard Bellfield's ex-girlfriend Emma Mills had moved to a women's refuge with her children in a bid to escape him.

Her mother, Gillian Mills, said her daughter was "besotted" with Bellfield who she had met in a nightclub when she was 17.

But was less impressed, telling police she "didn't like the look of him".

Image caption At the time of the attacks, Bellfield ran a wheel-clamping business in the western suburbs of London

"I would describe Levi as a big, fat lump with a high voice. He has no neck. He reminded me of Butch Dingle of Emmerdale," she said.

Bellfield, "a psychology PhD waiting to happen", according to Det Ch Insp Sutton, was very close to his mother. His father died when he was young.

"He dotes on his mother and her on him. It's a troubling relationship," he said.

At the time of the attacks, Bellfield ran a wheel-clamping business in the western suburbs of London, with a motley crew of workers with names like "Builder Bob" and "Fat Brian."

At times he made good money, and while giving evidence in his first trial at the Old Bailey he explained to the jury the formula on how to succeed in the clamping business.

Bellfield, a former body-builder, constantly denied any involvement in the attacks, and detectives could only guess at his motivation.

'Massive ego'

Det Ch Insp Sutton explained his own theory: "He has a massive ego to feed, he thinks he's God's gift to everyone.

"He drives around in his car, feels a bit 'whatever' and sees some young blonde girl.

"Young blonde girl says 'go away' and he thinks 'you dare to turn down Levi Bellfield, you're worth nothing' - and then she gets a whack over the head.

Image caption Bellfield has always denied any involvement in the attacks

"It is shown in the case of Kate Sheedy - she was smart enough to think she didn't like the look of his car and crosses the road. He thinks 'you think you're so clever' and whoosh, he runs her over."

While he was under police surveillance, Bellfield was seen driving around in his van, talking to young girls at bus stops.

Det Ch Insp Sutton's theory is backed up by the circumstances surrounding the death of another Bellfield's victims, French student Amelie Delagrange.

CCTV cameras captured her walking towards Twickenham Green after she missed her stop on the bus home.

She slowed her pace between the last two sightings, around the time Bellfield passed her in his van.

Det Ch Insp Sutton said she probably stopped to speak to him. Minutes later she lay dying from massive head wounds in the middle of a cricket pitch.

The detective said it was no coincidence all Bellfield's victims were of a similar appearance.

Emma Mills had told police the killer favoured small blonde girls with large chests.

Bellfield now faces another life sentence for his murderous trail of violence.

Det Ch Insp Sutton said: "We looked at a dozen crimes in west London and we have not been able to eliminate Levi from any of them.

"I fear we may have only scratched the surface."