Murderers an rapists on life sentences to be banned from marrying

Murderers and rapists on life sentences to be banned from marrying in prison after Milly Dowler’s murderer Levi Bellfield’s proposal to blonde visitor sparked outrage

  • Whole-life prisoners such as killer Levi Bellfield will be barred from marrying 
  • Dominic Raab’s Victim’s Bill aims to stop worst criminals enjoying privileges 

Britain’s worst criminals who are facing whole life jail terms will be banned from marrying thanks to new legislation.

News that Milly Dowler’s murderer Levi Bellfield planned to marry a regular female visitor at HMP Frankfield in Durham prompted outrage last year.

But such unions will be prevented under Justice Secretary Dominic Raab’s Victim’s Bill which set to be unveiled in the next two weeks, The Sun reports.

Some 60 prisoners, many of them serving long jail terms, applied to marry last year.

In a leaked letter to a cabinet colleague, Mr Raab said: ‘I consider there is a very real risk that marriage in such cases would undermine public and victims’ confidence in the Criminal Justice System.

News that Milly Dowler’s murderer Levi Bellfield planned to marry a regular female visitor at HMP Frankfield in Durham prompted outrage last year

Bellfield’s girlfriend  has reportedly said the killer has changed and is her dream man

‘Even where there is no risk of direct physical harm there is a significant risk of coercive or controlling behaviour.

‘I have seen how Bellfield seeking to marry has caused distress and trauma to his victims.’

The launch of the bill was pushed back amid concerns of legal challenges, while Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights sets out the right to marry.

But the Rishi Sunak’s Government is confident it would face off any legal battle, with backing from the Attorney General.

A Government source said allowing egregious criminals to wed would add to the distress the surviving relatives of victims

Tory MP Brendan Clarke-Smith has also lent his support, saying vulnerable members of the public could be ‘groomed’ into marriage by manipulative crooks.

Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed criticised the Conservatives for failing to enact a bill sooner, insisting that Labour has led calls for a Victims Bill for eight years.

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

Marsha McDonnell, 19, was had been to the cinema with friends and was on a late night bus when she was attacked with a hammer

Bellfield is known as Britain’s most evil killer and murdered 13-year-old schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002.

His new fiancee previously told the Mirror: ‘He is not a monster. Yes he has a bad past, but 17 years in prison changes a person.

‘He has changed, he has remorse, and there are always reasons a person goes wrong in life.

‘There is always a far bigger picture. He is 53 years old, still young and has to live knowing he will just grow old and die in that horrendous place.’

Bellfield was introduced to his fiancée through Peter Sutcliffe, who was friends with the woman before he died in 2020.

Bellfield and Sutcliffe were on the same wing in HMP Frankland. Bellfield asked to be put in touch with her after seeing her picture in Sutcliffe’s cell, the Sun reported.

They spoke on the phone, before she then began visiting Bellfield at the County Durham prison.

‘What people don’t realise is that the woman was friends with Sutcliffe for years before he died, although there was no romance between them,’ a source told the Sun.

Amelie Delagrange, 22, whose body was found, with a serious head injury lying on Twickenham Green, south west London

A career of evil: Bellfield’s rap sheet

1981: His first conviction was for burglary

1990: Convicted of assaulting a police officer 

October 14, 2001: Anna-Marie Rennie, 17, was attacked in Hospital Bridge Road, Witton, southwest London. She manages to escape but four years later identifies Bellfield as the man who tried to kidnap her. The jury failed to reach a verdict on a charge of false imprisonment and kidnapping

March 21 2002: Milly, 13, is walking home from school in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, when she disappears. Her remains are found six months later 25 miles away.

February 2003: Marsha McDonnell, 19, gets off a bus near her home in Hampton after a night out with friends, and is struck three times on the back of the head with a blunt object by Bellfield.

May 2004: Kate Sheedy, 18, is left for dead after Bellfield runs her down in his car after she gets off a bus in Isleworth after spending the evening with friends.

August 2004: Amelie Delagrange, 22, is battered to death by Bellfield after she gets off at the wrong bus stop and is attacked walking across Twickenham Green. She dies of head injuries.

February 2008: Bellfield is convicted of the murders of Marsha and Amelie, and the attempted murder of Kate.

March 2010: Bellfield is charged with killing Milly.

May 2011: Bellfield goes on trial at the Old Bailey after he denies abducting and murdering Milly.

June 2011: Bellfield yawns as he is found guilty of Milly’s murder. The following day he refuses to attend court where he is jailed for life. Bellfield becomes the first person to receive two whole-life terms.

February 2012: Bellfield loses a Court of Appeal bid to challenge his conviction for Milly’s kidnap and murder.

January 2016: Bellfield admits abducting, raping and killing schoolgirl Milly Dowler for the first time, Surrey Police say.  

They said that Bellfield asked for Sutcliffe’s consent to write to her, around a year before he died. 

His fiancée has now said that she is ‘not ashamed’ of their relationship, and believes that Bellfield has ‘changed’ and is ‘not a monster’.

She described herself to the Mirror as ‘extremely non-judgemental’, adding that her and her fiancé have had ‘kisses and cuddles’ in the County Durham prison. 

Yesterday Dominic Raab said that Bellfield’s request to get married in prison is ‘inconceivable’ and a wedding is unlikely to happen because of the risk he would pose to his fiancee.

And prime minster Boris Johnson has also condemned the nuptials, along with prisons minister Victoria Atkins.

‘The PM is sickened and appalled by this, and his thoughts are with the families of his victims,’ his spokesperson said. 

Ms Atkins called Bellfield a ‘monster’ and said that she is looking into the marriage application ‘very carefully’.  

Bellfield, who is serving two whole life sentences for the murders of Marsha McDonnell, Amelie Delagrange and Milly Dowler, has asked for permission to marry a woman while in custody. 

Last year, the killer got down on one knee and proposed to the woman in front of staff at HMP Frankland in County Durham, according to a report from The Sun. 

Mr Raab, who is justice secretary and Deputy Prime Minister, said the 53-year-old is a ‘dangerous serial killer’ and suggested any nuptials in prison are unlikely to happen.

When asked what powers he has to stop the wedding, Mr Raab, who is also deputy prime minister, criticised the Human Rights Act.

He said: ‘The Human Rights Act puts all sorts of obstacles in our way in that regard, which is I think one more reason why we are introducing a Bill of Rights to add a bit more common sense.

‘What I can tell you is it is inconceivable that the prison or the Ministry of Justice would authorise that marriage unless the very significant concerns about the safeguarding were addressed; we’ve asked for a risk assessment in relation to that.

‘Clearly, we’re dealing with a dangerous serial killer.’

Mr Raab said it is ‘very difficult to see’ how the safeguarding concerns could be overcome.

The Government outlined its plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a new Bill of Rights in Tuesday’s Queen’s speech.

Former bouncer and wheel-clamper Bellfield’s bid to wed is ‘exactly the kind of case’ which shows the new legislation is needed, Mr Raab said.

Bellfield asked to be put in touch with his now fiancée after seeing her picture in Sutcliffe’s cell before he died in 2020. Pictured, Sutcliffe aged 74

He is engaged to a female visitor and got down on one knee to propose in front of prison staff at HMP Frankland (pictured)

He added: ‘We need written down in UK law a clear set of rights. They shouldn’t be trumped by elastic interpretations of human rights.’

Former justice secretary Robert Buckland said people will be ‘rightly shocked’ to hear he has become engaged, with director of the Centre for Crime Prevention, David Spencer, calling the marriage an ‘insult’ to his victim’s families. 

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