The man who killed the daughter of a leading music industry figure from Northern Ireland is to face trial for Milly Dowler’s murder.
Milly’s parents were last night hoping their long wait for justice could soon end after prosecutors said former nightclub doorman Levi Bellfield (41) will face a jury.
Bellfield will be charged with kidnapping the 13-year-old eight years ago as she walked home from school before killing her.
The former wheelclamper, originally from West Drayton, Middlesex, will appear in custody before Staines magistrates on April 13.
He will also be charged with attempting to kidnap 12-year-old Rachel Cowles the day before Milly disappeared.
The decision follows a multi-million pound police inquiry into one of Britain's best-known unsolved murders.
Amanda Dowler, known as Milly, vanished while walking home from school in Walton-on-Thames on March 21, 2002.
Six months later her skeletal remains were found 30 miles away by mushroom pickers in Yateley Heath, Hampshire.
Her parents, Bob and Sally, thanked detectives for “painstaking work” in the past eight years.
In a statement, they said: “It's very hard to say how we feel after eight long and difficult years.
“We are extremely grateful to Detective Superintendent Maria Woodall and her investigating team for their painstaking work and support to us over the years.
“We are pleased that Levi Bellfield has been charged with abduction and murder and hope this will go some way towards providing justice for our darling Milly.”
In 2008, Bellfield was found guilty of murdering students Marsha McDonnell (19), and Amelie Delagrange (22), and attempting to murder schoolgirl Kate Sheedy (18). All of the women were attacked near bus stops in south-west London, prompting Bellfield to be dubbed the bus stop killer.
Ms McDonnell, whose father was from Enniskillen and was a leading figure in the music industry, died after being attacked in Percy Road, Hampton, near her home early in February 2003 after a night out at the cinema. She had been struck on the head.
Bellfield was first interviewed over Milly's death five years ago.
Officials at the CPS complex casework unit began considering the evidence in September.
The five files of material include new evidence against Bellfield obtained in December 2008. Officers believe they also have compelling circumstantial evidence linking him to the crime.
Bellfield was living with his girlfriend Emma Mills a short distance from where Milly was last seen. A heavily-loaded red Daewoo Nexia, owned by Miss Mills, was caught on CCTV driving away from the area at about the time Milly disappeared.
The distinctive car has never been recovered by police.
A similar car was involved in the incident the precious day in which a 12-year-old girl was offered a lift home in Shepperton.
This event is understood to be what lies behind the first charge, an allegation that Bellfield attempted to kidnap Miss Cowles.
March 21, 2002: Milly vanishes while walking home from school in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey.
March 24: Robert and Sally Dowler appeal for help in finding their daughter.
April 3: At a press conference, Milly's parents make a renewed appeal.
April 7: Police release CCTV footage of Milly on the afternoon she went missing. She is captured on camera at Heathside School in Weybridge, and on the platform at Weybridge railway station.
April 10: Milly's sister Gemma, then 16, appeals for witnesses to come forward.
September 20: Milly's skeletal remains are found 30 miles from her home by mushroom pickers in Hampshire.
October 8: Milly's family launch Milly's Fund — a charity aimed at promoting personal safety for young people.
March 21, 2003: Surrey Police and Crimestoppers offer a £50,000 reward for information leading to Milly's killer.
November 2004: Levi Bellfield, a suspect in the murder, is arrested over other matters.
April 25, 2005: Police appeal for information about a red Daewoo Nexia car filmed close to where Milly was last seen.
August 4, 2009: West London scrap dealer Nirmal Gharu is arrested and questioned over the disposal of the car.
October 6: Underwater divers search a fishing lake at Bedfont Lakes Country Park for the missing Daewoo Nexia.
March 30, 2010: The Crown Prosecution Service announces that Levi Bellfield will be charged.