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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 January 2008, 20:38 GMT
Levi Bellfield takes the stand
By Ben Ando
BBC crime reporter

Marsha McDonnell
Bellfield is accused of murdering Marsha McDonnell

For the last two months, Levi Bellfield has sat in the dock in court five at the Old Bailey and watched the prosecution outline its case against him.

It has presented evidence allegedly showing Mr Bellfield was the "bus stop stalker" responsible for a series of vicious and deadly attacks on women in a three-year period in south-west London.

The defence has now begun. The first witness to be called - Levi Bellfield himself.

He is accused of murdering two young women, attempting to murder two others, and trying to kidnap a fifth between 2001 and 2004.

All the attacks took place in south-west London. In each case the victim was at or near a bus stop, or had recently alighted from a bus.

Reporting restrictions mean even though the jury can see him, the BBC is not permitted to show a picture of Levi Bellfield.

He is white, and though not especially tall, is thick-set and stocky.

Giving evidence, he spoke in a soft but clear voice, with a distinctive London accent, and wore a smart grey suit with a striped tie.

Almost immediately, his defence barrister William Boyce QC listed the allegations against him in chronological order.

In 2001, Anna Maria Rennie was grabbed late at night while out walking after a row with her boyfriend.

"Were you present at the scene?" Mr Boyce asked.

"No, I wasn't," Mr Bellfield replied.

He was asked if he was present when Marsha McDonnell was attacked and killed near her home in Hampton in 2003.

"Absolutely not," he said.

Son's birthday

He said he was in "the vicinity" when Irma Dragoshi was attacked near a bus stop in the Longford area, also in 2003, but said he "did not have a hand" in the attack, claiming it was carried out by someone he was with.

He also denied being present when sixth-former Kate Sheedy was run over and left for dead in 2004 in Isleworth, or of being present when French student Amelie Delagrange was murdered on Twickenham Green in the same year.

Now studying for a degree, Kate Sheedy was sitting in court to hear Mr Bellfield give his evidence, as were Amelie Delagrange's parents, who have travelled over from France to attend much of the trial.

Kate Sheedy
Student Kate Sheedy was run over in Isleworth in 2004

Mr Bellfield was asked how he felt about being charged with the attack on Anna Maria Rennie, who had travelled from Spain - where she lives now - to give evidence.

He said he was "angry and upset" when he found out about the allegation, in addition to the other charges.

He said that date was his son's birthday, and that he was having a Chinese meal at the time of the alleged attack.

He also said that he was "pretty certain" he was at home watching Martin Bashir's interview with Michael Jackson on television on the night Marsha McDonnell was killed.

Earlier, Mr Boyce had taken the unusual step of asking Mr Bellfield to list all his previous convictions.

The jury heard he had been in trouble with the police and the courts since he was a teenager, with a string of petty convictions for car crime and theft dating back to 1982.

He had been jailed for assaulting a police officer during a scuffle at his home in 1990 when the police were called to deal with complaints of loud music being played.

He also confirmed he had been fined by the police for assaulting a man who he said had "pinched his girlfriend's backside" in a pub in Twickenham.

However, Mr Bellfield said that on the dozen or so previous occasions, he had always pleaded guilty in court - he said this was the first time he had ever denied charges against him.

Mr Bellfield also told the jury he had spent his entire life in the Hounslow, Hanworth and Feltham areas of south-west London - confirming that he knew the area well, and was familiar with the streets and parks where his alleged victims were attacked.

Colourful characters

He said that until 2002 he had worked as a bouncer - or "door supervisor" as he described it - in various bars and nightclubs in Uxbridge, Watford, Ealing and Sunbury.

Then he changed professions and became a wheelclamper, at first working with two brothers, then branching out on his own.

He said he would use "cold calling" tactics to generate business, but said it "wasn't just clamping people and taking extortionate amounts of money - you have to offer a service to solve their parking problems".

He then described some of the colourful characters he worked with - with names like Builder Bob and Fat Brian - but when asked whether he, they and others were satisfactory employees said "absolutely not".

He also confirmed that once he began his wheelclamping business, he had large numbers of cars but added that lots of people had had access to them.

He explained that he had compiled a table that showed in 2004 he had at least 20 cars.

He did not bring the table with him, he said, because he wanted to give the jury his evidence "unassisted".

He said that at times it was "like a parking lot" in the road at Little Benty, where he lived with his girlfriend in West Drayton.

Bellfield is set to continue giving his evidence.

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