Serial killer Levi Bellfield, responsible for the murders of Marsha McDonnell, Amélie Delagrange and Milly Dowler, has got engaged and has requested a prison wedding.
The 53-year-old killer, who is serving a whole life order, would need the permission of the prison governor to marry at HMP Frankland, a category A men’s prison.
This is everything you need to know.
Is Levi Bellfield engaged?
The Ministry of Justice confirmed that Bellfield is engaged and that he has requested a prison wedding.
Former Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told The Sun that the proposed prison nuptials “beggars belief” and added: “Milly never got to see her wedding day. It cannot be right that he gets to have his.”
Buckland added: “People will be rightly shocked to hear that a man capable of such depraved crimes and is rightly imprisoned is able to form a relationship of this kind.”
The outlet reported that Bellfield got down on one knee to propose to his future wife in front of prison staff at HMP Frankland in County Durham.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “An application has been received and is being considered in the usual way.”
It is understood that Bellfield’s application is still being processed and has not yet reached any further stage.
Who is his fiancée?
The identity of Bellfield’s future wife is unknown, although The Sun has identified her as a blonde woman in her 40s.
She began writing to Bellfield in prison two years ago and became a regular visitor of his.
The woman reportedly travelled to see Bellfield once or twice a week and it was during one of these visits that Bellfield proposed.
The news outlet has said that the woman bought Bellfield an engagement ring, however he is not allowed to wear it until permission to marry has been granted. It also stated that Bellfield had written love letters and poems to the woman, and has pictures of her on his cell wall.
A source reportedly told the Sun: “Bellfield proposed to the lady in the traditional way on one of her visits - and was cock-a-hoop when she said yes.
“He has been bragging about it to other inmates and telling people how he has a fiancée. It is all odd and quite disturbing.
“It is obviously hard to see what the woman sees in him, especially considering what he has done and the fact he is never getting out.
“But Bellfield is serious about her and has looked into the legal issues around marrying in jail.
“It is legal but he fears the jail authorities could make life difficult for him - so he has already consulted his solicitor about it.”
What is Levi Bellfield’s pattern of behaviour with women?
Prior to being issued his whole life sentence, Bellfield fathered 11 children with three different women.
Amid the investigation into Bellfield, police tracked down ex-girlfriends who all described a similar pattern of abuse.
Detective Sergeant Jo Brunt said: “He was lovely at first, charming, then completely controlling and evil. They all said the same.”
After a few weeks of being together, Bellfield would take his partner’s mobile phone and replace it with one that had only his number. He would also prevent them from seeing family or friends, would stop them doing out without his permission and would constantly keep tabs on what they were doing.
One girlfriend told police that, following an argument, Bellfield told her to sit on a stool in the kitchen and not to move. He went to bed while she stayed there all night.
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.”
Speaking to the Guardian in 2019, Becky Wilkinson, who had four children with Bellfield, detailed the abuse she suffered at the hands of the killer.
She said: “He pushed me down the stairs when [daughter Bobbie] was three days old.
“During the time we were together he would hit me. I wasn’t allowed to speak to my family or even see them.”
In a profile of Bellfield for the Times, Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton of the Metropolitan Police, who led the murder investigation into Bellfield, said: “All that matters to Bellfield is Bellfield. He is charming and vicious, intelligent but uneducated, cunning and reckless.
“The combination of these competing traits with his voracious sexual appetite and his utter contempt for women and girls led to a long line of girlfriends and partners.
“We took so many witness statements which began, “I had a short relationship with Levi Bellfield . . .” But each new relationship descended into abuse, control and violence.”
Responding to the news of Bellfield’s engagement, Sutton said: “We found that any relationship Levi Bellfield entered into started off fine and then quickly developed into one of coercive control and violence.
“It is worrying that he still has the ability to enter into a relationship like this with a partner.
“But she will be in a safer position than partners he had on the outside because he is locked up.”
Can you get married in prison?
Under the 1983 Marriages Act, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004, prisoners have a right to marry in jail.
The wedding ceremony would take place in the prison’s chapel, after which the couple would be granted a supervised two hour visit.
Conjugal visits are not permitted in English, Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish prison systems.
Prisons Minister Victoria Atkins has said that she has ordered an immediate review into the request of Bellfield to get married in prison, branding the proposed nuptials “absolutely appalling”.
She claimed the news called into question the workings of the Human Rights Act, saying Bellfield currently has a right under Article 12 to have his application for a wedding considered.
Asked on Sky News about the request, Atkins said: “Absolutely appalling. I’ve ordered an immediate review into this when it came to light last night.
“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 yet married, 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.
“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’ll be raising this.”
Who is Levi Bellfield - and what did he do?
Bellfield is an English serial killer, sex offender, rapist, kidnapper and burglar who is serving a whole life order at HM Prison Frankland for the murders of Marsha McDonnell, Amélie Delagrange, Milly Dowler and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy.
He picked up his first conviction in 1981 for burglary and in 1990 was convicted for 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.
At the time of the attacks, Bellfield ran a wheel-clamping business in and around West Drayton where he lived. He was seen driving around in his van and speaking to young girls at bus stops.
His victims were:
- Amanda Jane “Milly” Dowler, a 13-year-old girl who went missing on 21 March 2002. She was found dead in Yateley Heath Woods six months later
- Marsha McDonnell, a 19-year-old woman who he attacked with a blunt instrument near her home in Hampton in February 2003. While she was alive when she was found, she died in hospital two days after being admitted
- Amélie Delagrange, a 22-year-old French student visiting the UK who was found on the evening of 19 August 2004 with serious head injuries. She died in hospital the same night she was found
- Kate Sheedy, an 18-year-old whom Bellfield ran over with his car - despite her multiple injuries and weeks long hospital stay, Sheedy survived the attack. Years later, she gave evidence against Bellfield in court
Bellfield was additionally charged with the abduction and false imprisonment of Anna-Maria Rennie, who was 17 at the time, and with the attempted murder of Irma Dragoshi, however the jury failed to reach a verdict on either of these charges.
Earlier this year in February, a lawyer claimed that Bellfield admitted to the murders of Lin Russell and her daughter Megan, who were found bludgeoned to death in Chillenden, Kent, in July 1996.