Bellfield Appeal Turned Down

Former bouncer Levi Bellfield lost a bid today to challenge his conviction for the kidnap and murder of teenager Milly Dowler.

An application for permission to appeal by Bellfield, 43, was rejected by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, Mr Justice Wyn Williams and Mr Justice Maddison, sitting at the Court of Appeal in London.

Bellfield was given a whole life term in June 2011 after being found guilty of abducting and killing 13-year-old Milly following a trial at the Old Bailey.

Milly was snatched from the street while on her way from school to her home in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in March 2002.

Bellfield was already in jail for the murders of Amelie Delagrange and Marsha McDonnell, and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy, when he went on trial last year in the Milly Dowler case.

In 2008, he had been given a whole life term for murdering Ms McDonnell, 19, in 2003, and murdering Ms Delagrange, 22, and attempting to murder Ms Sheedy, 18, in 2004.

The single ground of appeal raised today in a bid to show that Bellfield's conviction was ``arguably unsafe'' was a complaint about the trial judge's decision to allow evidence of those convictions to go before the jury.

It was argued by Jeffrey Samuels QC, for Bellfield, that the overall effect of its admission was to ``distort'' the focus of the evidence against the defendant in relation to the kidnap and murder of Milly.

But Lord Judge said the court had reached the ``clear conclusion'' that there was no basis for finding that the decision of the trial judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, had been wrong or was ``even open to question''.

Milly's body was found in a wood in Yateley Heath, Hampshire - 25 miles from Walton-on-Thames. Experts could not say how she died.

Bellfield lived 50 yards from where Milly vanished but did not become a suspect until he was arrested by police in London for the other crimes in 2004.

Lord Judge said the case was ``notorious'' and continued to attract a huge degree of ``public interest and attention''.

It was submitted on behalf of Bellfield that, without the evidence of the previous convictions ``the prosecution case against the applicant was a very weak one''.

Lord Judge said the trial judge took the view, and the court agreed, that the evidence would have been ``distorted'' if the jury had been left ignorant about those convictions.

He added that, without reference to the previous convictions, there was ``ample'' evidence for the jury to consider whether he had killed Milly.

Although allegations relating to the hacking of Milly's mobile phone were raised during today's proceedings, they did not form any part of the appeal application.

Mr Samuels told the court that Bellfield had been advised that no ground of appeal on that issue was currently available.

The QC said the evidence was ``not clear'', but if the ``true evidential position'' was eventually revealed, advice could then be given to Bellfield on whether it could provide him with a new ground of appeal.

On the phone-hacking issue, Lord Judge said there was ``no fresh evidence merits the attention of the court for this hearing''.