Levi Bellfield: who was Milly Dowler killer, when did Colin Sutton catch him, and when is documentary on TV?

Levi Bellfield: Getting Away with Murder is Channel 5’s follow up documentary to The Abduction of Milly Dowler

Bellfield claimed the lives of three young women and attempted to kill another young schoolgirl

Levi Bellfield is one of Britain’s most notorious serial killers, with the detective who caught him, DCI Colin Sutton, describing him as “cunning and violent”.

He was convicted of the murder of three women and the attempted murder of another, with his victims aged 13 to 22 years old.

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ITV’s ‘Manhunt’ series one told the story of Bellfield’s heinous acts and the pursuit to bring him to justice, in a dramatised docu-series based on the accounts of DCI Sutton.

Now, Channel 5 will air Levi Bellfield: Getting Away with Murder, a documentary exploring how the serial sex offender escaped justice for so long.

So who was Bellfield, and who were his victims? This is what you need to know.

Who is Levi Bellfield?

Levi Bellfield was born Levi Rabetts in London on May 17, 1968.

Bellfield was charged with murder in November 2004 and later in 2006 and 2009

He was raised on a council estate with his brother and sister and became known to the police at the age of just 13.

Throughout his teenage years, he engaged in petty crimes such as burglary and car theft, and in 1990, he was charged with assaulting a police officer.

By the time of his first murder in 2002, Bellfield had spent nearly a year in prison and was known for being controlling, manipulative and abusive towards his partners.

“He was lovely at first, charming, then completely controlling and evil. They all said the same," said Detective Sergeant Jo Blunt, recalling Bellfield’s girlfriends’ comments about him.

Bellfield is thought to father 11 children to several women and spent time working as a doorman and running a wheel clamping business.

Who are his victims?

Milly Dowler

The schoolgirl was reported missing by her parents when she failed to return home after leaving Walton-on-Thames railway station in Surrey on 21 March 2002.

Milly Dowler went missing in 2002, she was only 13 years old

Her body was found in Yateley Heath Woods, Hampshire, six months later.

She had phoned her father just minutes before leaving the station, informing him she would be home in half an hour. The search for her killer was one of the biggest manhunts in British history.

A red Daewoo Nexia belonging to the girlfriend of Levi Bellfield was spotted on CCTV footage from a cafe on the same street as the station, and in 2009 the killer admitted he’d been driving that car.

Bellfield, aged 33 at the time, was not charged with Milly’s murder until 2010. He was convicted in June 2011, while serving a life sentence for his other crimes.

Marsha Louise McDonnell

Bellfield’s second victim was Marsha Louise McDonnell, a 19-year-old who was found alive near her home in Hampton in February 2003, having been struck over the head with a hammer.

Marsha was found badly beaten and later died of her injuries

Marsha had been attacked after getting off the 111 bus from Kingston upon Thames and died two days later in hospital.

Bellfield sold his Vauxhall Corsa car for £1,500 six days after the murder, having bought it for £6,000 just five months earlier.

Amelie Delagrange

French student Amelie Delagrange was a 22-year-old French student who was living in the UK when Bellfield murdered her in a park in Twickenham.

Her body was found on August 19, 2004, after she had been struck over the head with a hammer, like Marsha McDonnell.

Police linked her murder with that of McDonnell and, after drawing links to a white Ford van which had been seen near the murder location of Amelie.

Bellfield later admitted to the murders while remanded in custody.

Kate Sheedy

Bellfield was charged with attempted murder for mowing down 18-year-old student Kate Sheedy in Isleworth on 28 May 2004.

Kate Sheedy, photographed in 2008, later testified against Bellfield in court

She survived, but suffered multiple injuries and spent several weeks in hospital. In 2008, she gave evidence to the trial of Bellfield in which she described the white people carrier with blacked out windows and a broken wing mirror which had struck her.

Bellfield had owned a Toyota Previa with blacked out windows and a broken wing mirror.

How was Levi Bellfield caught and charged with the murders?

DCI Colin Sutton, dubbed the ‘real manhunter’, was a Met detective who led the case of Amélie’s murder.

The force had little to go on but found that her mobile phone - stolen in the deadly attack - was used in Walton-on-Thames, where Milly had been abducted and murdered in March 2002.

DCI spoke to the media outside court in 2008, as Bellfield was found guilty of two murders and an attempted murder

Following an intense search through CCTV footage, officers spotted a white Ford van present near the scene of Amélie’s murder. It was the same van spotted in Walton-on-Thames following the murder of Milly.

Sutton wrote: "I would pursue this van with everything I could throw at it.

"We worked every hour for weeks. The van was identified as a Ford Courier, manufactured between 1996 and 2000. There were 25,000 in the UK and I wanted to look at every single one."

As the police appealed for information, Bellfield’s ex-girlfriend Johanna Collings said she thought he could be responsible for Amélie’s death.

"This was her chance to break free from a terrifying relationship, and she poured out a horrifying catalogue of rapes and abuse, and said she knew Bellfield’s previous partners had suffered the same treatment,” DCI Sutton revealed.

Emma also recounted how Bellfield acted suspiciously on the night Milly Dowler vanished. She also placed him in the same area as where Amélie was killed.

The investigators went on to discover that he had once owned a white Ford van and it was not long before he was linked to Kate Sheedy’s attack.

Bellfield was placed under police observation, and within days was seen pulling over to talk to young girls at a bus stop. Police soon arrested him.

Sutton wrote: "While officers questioned Bellfield at Heathrow Police Station, we were also questioning his partner Emma Mills, the mother of three of his 11 children.”

DCI Sutton later said: "When we started dealing with him he came across as very jokey like he’s your best mate. But he’s a cunning individual, violent. He can switch from being nice to being nasty, instantly."

In 2006, Bellfield was arrested and charged with the murders of Amelie Delagrange and Marsha McDonnell and the attempted murders of Kate Sheedy and Irma Dragoshi.

He was found guilty of the murders of McDonnell and Delagrange, as well as the attempted murder of Sheedy, on 25 February 2008. The jury failed to reach a verdict on Irma Dragoshi, and the false imprisonment of another female, Anna-Maria Rennie.

Bellfield was sentenced to life in prison, with a recommendation that he should never be released.

On 23 June 2011, he was convicted of the murder of 13-year-old schoolgirl Milly Dowler and he was again sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 2016, Bellfield admitted to Surrey police that he had abdupted, raped and murdered Milly after being interviewed about whether he had an accomplice.

When is Levi Bellfield: Getting Away with Murder on Channel 5?

Bellfield’s attacks will be put under the lens in Channel 5’s Levi Bellfield: Getting Away with Murder, airing at 10pm on 22 September.

You can also watch series one of ITV’s ‘Manhunt’, retelling the story of DCI Sutton’s search for Amelie Delagrange’s murder, on the ITV Hub.

The series consists of three hour-long episodes.