Milly's father was original suspect
Murdered Milly Dowler's father has told a stunned Old Bailey that he had been the original suspect in her disappearance after police found bondage material at the family home.
Bob Dowler, 59, broke down in tears in the witness box after sad notes written by Milly, in which she said she was unhappy, were read to him.
He had told police, who informed him he was a suspect whether he liked it or not, that the teenager had discovered a bondage magazine in his bedroom. But he denied having anything to do with the 13-year-old's disappearance.
Double killer Levi Bellfield was later arrested but denies killing Milly. Bellfield, 42, denies abducting and murdering Milly and attempting to kidnap 11-year-old Rachel Cowles in March 2002.
The emotional evidence came from Mr Dowler, an IT consultant, after Jeffrey Samuels QC, defending, began his cross-examination.
Mr Samuels asked: "After the aftermath of her disappearance and in the early part of the police inquiry, is it right that you became for a time the focus of police inquiries?" Mr Dowler replied: "That is correct."
He had considered this to be a waste of time. He said: "I was very concerned because I knew if they focused on me, they need to be focused on someone else."
Mr Samuels asked: "They were suggesting you had something to do with your daughter's disappearance?" Mr Dowler replied: "I do believe that was the case."
Milly disappeared "in the blink of an eye" after leaving Walton-on-Thames station, Surrey, and beginning her walk home along Station Avenue. The prosecution says Bellfield was living yards away and murdered Milly in his flat before dumping the body. Her remains were found six months later in woods 25 miles away.
Bellfield, a former wheelclamper and bouncer, was convicted in 2008 of murdering Marsha McDonnell, 19, Amelie Delagrange, 22, and attempting to murder 18-year-old Kate Sheedy.