Levi Bellfield’s ‘confessions’ shame our justice system
In Britain, a life sentence rarely means life, so when a brutal murderer suddenly starts confessing, we can assume the pursuit of parole rather than regret or repentance is the prime motive. Life must mean life
Ever since Milly Dowler was kidnapped while on her way from school to her home in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in March 2002, life has been hell for the Dowler family. The 13 year old’s decision to go for chips with her friends at a station cafe led her into the path of Levi Bellfield, a former nightclub bouncer, manager of a car clamping business and a serial killer.
Despite a nationwide search, maximum publicity in the press, 100 police officers and helicopters searching the surrounding area, Milly had vanished without a trace. Her body was eventually found months later, but it would take another six years before Police found a credible suspect in Levi Bellfield.
Bellfield, 47, was eventually given a whole-life prison sentence in June 2011 for murdering Milly, but only after putting her family through the pain and humiliation of a trial where personal details about her private life were raked over by his defence team.
Yet, as of last week, we are to believe that Bellfield has had a change of heart. He has finally confessed to the murder of Milly Dowler, but that’s not all; he has told Police he was involved in a string of other attacks which have so far involved nine separate forces who are conducting investigations into the validity of his claims.
This is, of course, a breakthrough for the Police and will provide some comfort for the Dowler family. But the consequence of Bellfield’s wild claims is that his admittance is likely to be linked to the pursuit of parole.
In short – he’s confessing to a string of crimes, some he is responsible for, others he may well not be involved with. That means the time, resources and efforts of Police Officers will be diverted in pursuit of his confessions, some of which are likely to be a fabrication.
As one officer close to the case has noted, “I never thought he would admit anything until his mother died. He had a strange, very close relationship with her. But he has lied persistently in the past.
“These ‘admissions’ need to be taken seriously because it would be wrong not to, but there needs to be a healthy scepticism about what he is saying.”
But whilst encouraging convicted criminals to confess their crimes should be a key aim of the justice system, these confessions should come from repentance instead of excitement over possible freedom.
This problem could be solved if in Britain life really did mean life, but until our justice system recognises the need for mandatory and unbreakable life sentences, murderers, rapists and paedophiles will always be encouraged to exaggerate confessions in exchange for freedom.
Bellfield has been described by Police Officers as a “a cold, calculated, manipulative and chilling man,” and for creatures like this, life should indeedmean life.
Steven George-Hilley is Associate Editor of The Commentator and a director at the Parliament Street think tank. @StevenGoorgia
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