MURDERER Levi Bellfield's ex-girlfriend Becky Wilkinson spent nearly 20 years living in fear. Here, she tells the Chronicle's Nina Rossi of her relief after her violent and possessive former boyfriend was jailed for life.
FOR the first time in two decades, Becky Wilkinson can finally sleep at night knowing Levi Bellfield, the father of four of her children, will never be able to hurt her again.
Last week Ms Wilkinson, from Bedfont, watched from the gallery as the man dubbed the 'bus stop stalker' was found guilty of murdering two defenceless women and attempting to kill a third.
The following day a judge ruled he would never leave prison, marking the end of years of mental and physical abuse for his string of ex-girlfriends.
Ms Wilkinson, who dated hammer-murderer Bellfield for five years, told the Chronicle: "At first
I was shocked but inside I think I always knew what he was capable of - when I heard the evidence it all fit."
She finally escaped his abusive clutches in 1995 after he raped her at knifepoint.
"But he never left me alone," she said. "He always thought he owned me - he thought he owned all his women."
Ms Wilkinson, now 37, describes herself as a 'naive' 18-year-old when she first met Bellfield at the Oxford Arms pub, in Hanworth, where she was working as a barmaid.
"He was never a big drinker but he'd pop in from time to time and chat to me," she said. "I was a single mum with a young baby and he was charming.
"Everything was fine until I got pregnant, then he became very controlling and sometimes nasty.
"The night I went into labour he refused to get off the sofa and take me to hospital. I had to walk through the snow to a phone box and call my mum to come and get me. The week after I got home he kicked me down the stairs, and that was really the start of it."
From that point onwards Bellfield became increasingly controlling and violent towards his young partner, regularly beating her, locking her inside her flat and raping her if she tried to deny him sex.
She said: "He wanted to control everything I did and everyone I spoke to - he didn't let me talk to my family for two years.
"One time he got really angry with me and put all my baby photos in the sink and covered them in bleach. It just got worse from there."
Despite his possessiveness Bellfield continued seeing a string of other women during this period, often bringing them back to Ms Wilkinson's flat in Central Avenue when she was out.
She remembers being pleased when he started working as a bouncer because it meant he was away during the evenings, although he would often pull her out of bed and beat her when he got home.
"He used to be out late a lot and I knew there were other women but I didn't care if it meant he left me alone," she said. "But now I'm thinking he could have been doing anything. It makes me feel sick to think he might have been doing this stuff and then coming back to my bed."
When she eventually found the courage to leave him for good in 1995, Ms Wilkinson hoped her ordeal was over but Bellfield continued to torment her.
She says he broke into her new home not long after she moved and raped her again to punish her for defying him.
He then slashed her car tyres, broke windows and threatened her regularly.
Chillingly, he also stalked her for an evening before hitting her over the head with a bicycle wheel two weeks before he murdered Amelie Delagrange.
"I never felt the police took me seriously," she said. "They wouldn't even investigate when I told them about the stalking.
"A couple of times I pressed charges but he'd always wriggle out of it with an alibi or he'd intimidate me so I didn't turn up to court. He always said the law couldn't touch him."
It has been five years since Ms Wilkinson or her children last spoke to Bellfield but she says the fear stayed with her until she heard that he had been locked up for good.
"We're just trying to get on with our lives now," she added.
"Seeing the victims' families at court made me think about how lucky I am to be alive. I feel so sorry for all of them.
"All this has been a horrible shock to my kids," she added. "I just don't want people blaming them or punishing them for what he's done.
"If people knew what we've been through they'd see that we're victims too."
SINCE making the decision to prosecute two years ago, lawyer Andrew Hadik has been wading through a mountain of paperwork with just one aim - putting Bellfield behind bars.
Mr Hadik, who works for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "I was confident about them all [the charges] but with
circumstantial evidence it's always a hard slog. What you're doing is working with police to exclude all other possibilities except the suspect's guilt."
On March 2 Bellfield was eventually charged with seven offences, including murder, attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, kidnap and false imprisonment.
But it was another 19 months before Mr Hadik entered the Old Bailey to watch a barrister lay out the case he had prepared with the Special Casework Team.
"Obviously, it's very tense in court but there is a sense of relief when the case finally starts," he said. "All the families are there, the lawyers are in place and the stage is set. You just want everything to go right."
After four months Mr Hadik was in court to see Bellfield found guilty of two murders and an attempted murder.
"I have to try to keep emotion out of it in order to do my job," he said. "But it was a relief to know that we had done our job."
Mr Hadik is now waiting to hear whether police will uncover more evidence against Bellfield.