Levi Bellfield: Serial killer's plan to get married in prison sparks concern
Bellfield, who is serving life in prison for the murder of three women including schoolgirl Milly Dowler, was introduced to his fiancee by Yorkshire ripper Peter Sutcliffe.
Dominic Raab has pledged to "move quickly" to change a law that would allow sex offender and serial killer Levi Bellfield to use taxpayer's money to fund his bid to get married in prison.
Bellfield, who is serving two whole-life sentences for three murders including that of 13-year-old schoolgirl Milly Dowler, has reportedly made a bid for legal aid after his request for a prison wedding to his girlfriend was turned down.
But justice secretary Raab told LBC on Friday: "There is no question of taxpayers’ money being used on some sort of celebration.”
“Legal aid for prisoners is subject to strict criteria," he said. “But let me just be crystal clear with you: I don’t think it is appropriate and I’m going to change the law. We are committed to that.”
Asked about Bellfield's reported request for legal aid, Rabb continued: "It hasn’t happened yet and I plan to move quickly. Passing a law is never about any individual case. But I don’t think it is appropriate and - both within the realm of the existing powers that I have but also the legislative agenda, on which I will be saying more shortly - I think it is wrong."
Who is Levi Bellfield and what did he do?
Bellfield is a serial killer and sex offender who targeted women on public transport. His first conviction was for burglary when he was just 13. By the time he hit 34 he had racked up nine convictions including assaulting a police officer.
The nightclub bouncer, who is believed to have fathered 11 children with at least four women, was described by Met Police Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton as "a cunning individual".
"When we started dealing with him he came across as very jokey like he's your best mate," he said. "But he's a cunning individual, violent. He can switch from being nice to being nasty, instantly."
The 54-year-old predator, dubbed the bus-stop killer after targeting women on buses, is serving two whole-life sentences in prison for the murders of 13-year-old schoolgirl Milly Dowler, 19-year-old Marsha McDonnell, and French student Amélie Delagrange, 22, and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy, then 18.
Bellfield was initially convicted of the murders of Marsha McDonnell and Amélie Delagrange in 2008, and in 2011 was found guilty of the 2002 murder of Milly Dowler. In 2016, he finally admitted to the rape and murder of the 13-year-old.
Police also reviewed a number of other attacks on women dating back as far as 1980 following Bellfield's conviction - stating at the time that they believed he may be responsible for up to 20 unsolved cases.
Can prisoners get married?
Around 60 prisoners in the UK got married while behind bars last year, and it is legal for convicts to get married. However, this rule is not a guarantee - any prisoner who wants to get married has to request permission from the prison governor.
According to The Sun, Bellfield has claimed the refusal to let him get married is a breach of the 1983 Marriage Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Under Raab's proposed Victims Bill, anyone serving a whole-life sentence for rape or murder would be blocked from getting married.
Bellfield's girlfriend, who has not been named, told The Mirror: "He is not a monster. Yes, he has a bad past, but 17 years in prison changes a person.
“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," she said, also describing herself as "no random silly woman with an obsession for serial killers. I’m a very educated, intelligent woman, nobody’s fool."
The couple, who were reportedly introduced by the late Yorkshire ripper Peter Sutcliffe, "have an extremely close relationship" she added.