Minister Orders Review After Milly Dowler Killer Asks to Wed in Jail
11:31 GMT 12.05.2022 (Updated: 11:40 GMT 12.05.2022)
Levi Bellfield is serving a whole-life sentence for the murders of 13-year-old Milly Dowler, students Marsha McDonnell, and Amélie Delagrange, and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy. He had previously fathered 11 children with at least three women.
A UK government minister has ordered a review after the killer of schoolgirl Milly Dowler became engaged and asked to marry in prison.
Prisons Minister Victoria Atkins described the news of serial killer Levi Bellfield's application to marry, which broke on Wednesday evening, as "absolutely appalling".
"I have ordered an immediate review into this", she told Sky News'
Kay Burley on Thursday morning.
"Just to reassure people, I understand an application has been made that has not been decided yet, and he most certainly has not yet married", Atkins stressed.
Atkins pointed out that triple-murderer Bellfield had the right to request a prison wedding under the 1998 Human Rights Act, which the UK adopted under former Prime Minister Tony Blair's first government to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights as a member of the European Union (EU).
Wednesday's Queen's Speech
, delivered this year by Prince Charles on behalf of the monarch, announced the government would replace that act with a new post-Brexit bill of rights granting fewer protections to criminals and illegal immigrants.
"He's got the right under Article Twelve of the European Convention and the Human Rights Act to get married or they have the right to have the application considered by prison governors", the minister said. "I very much welcome the debate we're about to have about the Bill of Rights and looking at human rights for in the United Kingdom, the 21st century".
Bellfield, now 53, is serving a whole-life sentence at HMP Frankland in County Durham for the murder of 13-year-old Dowler in 2002 and young students Marsha McDonnell and Amélie Delagrange in 2003 and 2004. He was also convicted of the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy when he ran her down in his car in 2004.
He was only convicted of Dowler's murder in 2011, three years after he was jailed for the other three crimes. He is also suspected of the murder by strangulation of his childhood girlfriend Patsy Morris in 1980, when he was just 12 years old.
Bellfield's fiancée, who has not been identified, began writing to him two years ago and later became a regular visitor to him in jail. Apart from that, the killer had reportedly already fathered 11 children by at least three women before his arrest in 2004.
Bellfield's application to marry "beggars belief", former Justice secretary Robert Buckland told The Sun, adding: "Milly never got to see her wedding day. It cannot be right that he gets to have his".
Other famous criminals who have married in prison include Richard Ramirez, the notorious US "Night Stalker" who killed and raped at least 15 people in Los Angeles and San Francisco in 1984 and 1985.
Britain's own Charles Bronson
, an armed robber whose sentence was increased to life after multiple assaults on fellow inmates and prison staff, has been married three times, twice in prison. His third wife, Coronation Street actress Paula Williamson
, died in 2019 at the age of 38 after a night of drinking and taking cocaine during which she threatened to stab a nightclub bouncer. She was estranged from Bronson and was planning to marry her new partner Peter Jones, who discovered her dead in bed the next morning, after her marriage to the convict was annulled.