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Undated police image of Levi Bellfield, 43. Metropolitan Police/PA Wire/Press Association Images
UK Courts

Milly Dowler jury dismissed while deliberating attempted abduction

Judge blamed “deplorable” media reports after yesterday’s conviction for jury discharge on accusation of attempted abduction of second schoolgirl.

A FORMER BOUNCER who was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 13-year-old Milly Dowler yesterday, will not face a retrial for the attempted abduction of a second girl after the judge dismissed the jury today.

Levi Bellfield, 43, was convicted of the Dowler’s abduction and murder yesterday. He is already serving a life sentence for the murder of two young women, Marsha McDonnell, 19, and Amelie Delagrange 22, and the attempted murder of a third woman.

Dowler went missing as she walked home from school in March 2002 and her body was found in woodlands six months later.

Bellfield was also being tried for the attempted abduction of Rachel Cowles, 11, on the day before Dowler was taken. The jury was still deliberating on this charge when it was discharged by the judge because of media coverage of his conviction yesterday, according to Reuters.

His legal team had described the coverage as an “avalanche of adverse publicity” and highlighted reports which included comments attributed to the convict’s former partners. The Telegraph reports that the judge said the “trigger had been pulled too soon” by the media and said some of the coverage was “deplorable”. There will be no retrial.

The BBC reports that the Surrey Police has apologised to Milly Dowler’s family for “mistakes” made during the investigation into the young girl’s disappearance and murder. Although an attempt was made to abduct Cowles the day before, that information was not passed on to investigators.

Police had actually knocked on Bellfield’s door – 11 times. He lived close by where Dowler was last seen and although police called to his home, they received no reply and did not pursue his letting agent for further information.

Read: Double murderer convicted of killing English schoolgirl Milly Dowler >