Some of you will know that I take quite a keen interest in trials, both criminal and civil. Indeed, I was a regular attendee at the Old Bailey when I worked at BT in London and even now I study some of the trial transcripts going back to the 17th century. Finding that people were hung in those days for hitting another person with a stick or engaging in bestiality puts some of today’s sentences into perspective!
Why am I interested in this particular trial? Well, apart from the fact that the Dowler murder is one of Britain’s most notorious unsolved crimes, Milly’s body was found just around the corner from my friend’s house in Yately, Hampshire and the video shown frequently on TV of Milly ironing her clothes, made her seem almost like a relative. But more than that – Belfield, the only suspect, has already been sentenced to life for another murder and it’s quite obvious that the police who have been interviewing him think he’s their man, but will the trial be ‘fair’?
Belfield was first interviewed over Milly's death several years ago after he was held by the Metropolitan Police and in recent developments, officers believe they have compelling circumstantial evidence which links him to the crime. And that’s the problem – all the evidence is decidedly circumstantial.
On the night of Milly’s disappearance, a red Daewoo Nexia car was caught on CCTV ‘patrolling’ the area. The driver of the car was never traced but it just so happened that Belfield’s girlfriend at the time had a red Daewoo and Belfield has admitted he was driving the car on the night in question and coincidentally, he lived just round the corner from where Milly disappeared. It was widely rumoured that the car was crushed and disposed of and despite dredging lakes and interviewing a car scrappage dealer, the Daewoo has never been traced.
Despite the lack of clear unambiguous evidence, Belfield has been virtually tried and convicted by the tabloid papers. His face stares out of the front pages on a weekly basis and just how the trial judge will manage to get a jury who haven’t already found him guilty is beyond me.
The problem is, despite the lack of clear evidence, all the indicators say that he did it – but is this enough? Belfield is already serving life imprisonment and probably won’t be released until he’s a very old man, if at all – why doesn’t he just admit that he did it and give the Dowler family a break? But then I’m assuming he did it – maybe it’s the picture!