The family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler has hit out at the "horrifying ordeal" of her murder trial as the director of public prosecutions admitted the case raised "fundamental questions" about the treatment of victims in the courts.
Milly's parents said they felt as though they had been "put on trial" at the Old Bailey in a "truly mentally scarring experience on an unimaginable scale".
On Friday Milly's killer Levi Bellfield was jailed for life for murdering the 13 year old as questions were raised about the adversarial nature of the trial system, which distressed the Dowlers.
Despite their nine-year battle for justice, Milly's family said they had paid too high a price for the conviction. They felt let down by the police inquiry and the legal system.
Mother Sally Dowler, 51, said: "The trial has been an awful experience. Our family, who have already suffered so much, has been put on trial as much as Bellfield. Our family life has been scrutinised and laid open for everyone to inspect and comment upon.
"We have had to lose our right to privacy and sit through day after harrowing day of the trial in order to get a man convicted of a brutal murder."
Her husband Bob, 59, said: "My family has had to pay too high a price for this conviction."
He added: "During the past nine years there have been many occasions when the police investigation has left us in despair. The trial has been a truly horrifying ordeal for my family. The questioning of my wife was particularly cruel and inhuman. The trial has been a truly mentally scarring experience on an unimaginable scale."
Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses Louise Casey condemned the Dowlers' treatment in court as "quite appalling".
Surrey Police apologised for errors which allowed Bellfield to go undetected for more than two years, during which he killed two others.