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My agony without Milly: Murdered schoolgirl’s sister Gemma Dowler tells of shattering impact the brutal crime had on her own health and reveals never-before-seen photographs of her sibling in an emotional book
- Milly Dowler’s sister has written an emotional book about her sibling’s murder
- Gemma Dowler, 31, and her mother struggled with losing a sister and daughter
- She has written a book, called My Sister Milly, which features unseen pictures
The shattering affect of Milly Dowler’s murder on her family has been laid bare by the schoolgirl’s older sister 15 years after the case.
Gemma Dowler, now 31, revealed yesterday in heartbreaking detail how she and her mother struggled with the mental trauma of losing a beloved sister and daughter.
Milly was 13 when she was abducted and murdered on her way home from school in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in March 2002. Gemma was 16.
The killer Levi Bellfield was responsible for a series of murders and attacks on young women in South-West London and Surrey.
&amp;lt;img id=”i-628dd1923fe52ed7″ src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/06/29/21/41E0309F00000578-0-image-m-3_1498768568790.jpg” height=”461″ width=”634″ alt=”Milly Dowler (left) and her sister Gemma (right) were photographed sat on a wall during a holiday to Brecon, Wales&nbsp;” class=”blkBorder img-share”/&amp;gt;
Milly Dowler (left) and her sister Gemma (right) were photographed sat on a wall during a holiday to Brecon, Wales
&amp;lt;img id=”i-2221626c89316b53″ src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/06/29/21/41E0308D00000578-0-image-m-21_1498769591057.jpg” height=”434″ width=”634″ alt=”The sisters (Milly, pictured on the left) were seen enjoying a day at the pond as they posed with fishing nets&nbsp;” class=”blkBorder img-share”/&amp;gt;
The sisters (Milly, pictured on the left) were seen enjoying a day at the pond as they posed with fishing nets
&amp;lt;img id=”i-1f0d1f64850a54f4″ src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/06/29/21/41E2260B00000578-0-image-m-22_1498769652621.jpg” height=”441″ width=”634″ alt=”This was the last family holiday the family shared together and they were seen enjoying their time in Cuba during Christmas 2001&nbsp;” class=”blkBorder img-share”/&amp;gt;
This was the last family holiday the family shared together and they were seen enjoying their time in Cuba during Christmas 2001
The sisters’ mother battled anxiety, depression and very dark thoughts, Gemma reveals in a book she has now written about her family’s harrowing ordeal.
And she admits she also needed pioneering therapy to recover from the devastating psychological impact of the case – which included her drinking too much in the run-up to Bellfield’s murder trial.
Discussing the book on ITV’s This Morning yesterday, Gemma explained how therapy recommended by her mother had helped her recover from the trauma.
She told the programme: ‘I’ve kind of done quite a lot of therapy, but it wasn’t until ten years later I got diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
‘And then I found some EMDR therapy, which is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. It’s a relatively new kind of therapy, they give it to army veterans and police when they see horrific things and basically it takes you back to the memory.
‘The only reason I went was for mum and she said ‘this will make you feel like you’re closer to Milly, this will bring Milly back into your memories’ and I was like, ‘well I don’t believe that’ and then three sessions down it was just like ‘oh my gosh’.’
Explaining her decision to write her book about Milly now, Gemma went on: ‘The only book I wanted to write was from love and my courage and to make sure that when my children read about it in the future they’ll be able to read it through the words that I’ve chosen.
She added: ‘I feel like I’ve been fighting to be heard for 15 years. As a child when it happened that’s the worst thing that can happen to a child is they get shut out from everyone, so now I really feel like everyone is listening.’
Gemma also revealed how Milly’s death caused their mother Sally to consider ending her own life – unable to cope with the grief.
‘Mum was always worried I would never have a future and that was her main concern,’ she told the programme. ‘I was obviously worried that she didn’t want to live any more because at stages she said that. So I think it’s really important that I’ve written it all down and… have it on record.
‘It was so hard, I think I didn’t really realise how much it would affect me now and how much trauma there was. When you document it all in a book like this it’s like, ‘Oh my goodness, I can’t believe we’ve survived just … another hit, another hit, another hit’.
THE TRAUMA DROVE ME TO ALCOHOL
The stress of her sister’s murder trial turned her to alcohol, Gemma Dowler candidly reveals.
She writes: ‘In the build-up to the trial, I’m drinking too much, burning myself out … I’m in a state of ‘chronic hyperarousal’, unable to concentrate, unable to sleep.’
She says she her mind ‘constantly ticks over images’ that should not be there. ‘Everything that the police tell us about the trial makes me angrier.’
She also tells how, after her mental health deteriorated, she had therapy at a Priory psychiatric hospital. She writes: ‘Mum used her considerable resources to try to track down help for me, especially after the panic attacks started.’
Describing how she felt after she was admitted, she writes: ‘Mum and Dad have kissed me goodbye many times before … this goodbye is much worse.
‘When they leave me in my comfortable little room, my heart plummets. Has it really come to this? That I live in a mental hospital? That I’m no longer fit to live in society, or to work, or even to live with my parents?’
&amp;lt;img id=”i-a3c1cd84ee970c62″ src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/06/29/21/41DE94A400000578-0-image-m-23_1498769720268.jpg” height=”512″ width=”634″ alt=”Gemma Dowler (pictured) went on Good Morning Britain and showed some of the never-before-seen photographs which are in her book&nbsp;” class=”blkBorder img-share”/&amp;gt;
Gemma Dowler (pictured) went on Good Morning Britain and showed some of the never-before-seen photographs which are in her book
&amp;lt;img id=”i-f172260c3ffb9f41″ src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/06/29/21/41E0306B00000578-0-image-m-24_1498769734783.jpg” height=”418″ width=”634″ alt=”The sisters (Milly on the right) were photographed napping together and her sister Gemma (left)&nbsp;revealed yesterday in heartbreaking detail how she and her mother struggled with the mental trauma of losing a beloved sister and daughter” class=”blkBorder img-share”/&amp;gt;
The sisters (Milly on the right) were photographed napping together and her sister Gemma (left) revealed yesterday in heartbreaking detail how she and her mother struggled with the mental trauma of losing a beloved sister and daughter
&amp;lt;img id=”i-262a43f495ad8ec5″ src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/06/29/22/310C73F500000578-4652378-image-a-36_1498770463243.jpg” height=”478″ width=”306″ alt=”Milly was 13 when she was abducted” class=”blkBorder img-share”/&amp;gt;
&amp;lt;img id=”i-992e272fec184f8a” src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/06/29/22/08EE1926000005DC-4652378-image-m-37_1498770467804.jpg” height=”478″ width=”306″ alt=”She was murdered on her way home from school” class=”blkBorder img-share”/&amp;gt;
Milly (pictured) was 13 when she was abducted and murdered on her way home from school in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in March 2002
TEENAGER’S ESSAY ON ANOTHER TRAGIC GIRL
Milly Dowler wrote a poignant school essay about the high-profile murder of another girl just two months before she was herself abducted and killed.
She said that what happened to Sarah Payne was ‘totally wrong’ and that the case in July 2000 had ‘surely stole the hearts of the nation’.
Dated January 12, 2002, Milly’s essay says Sarah’s case was a ’cause for concern’ which was ‘sad but tragic’. Sarah Payne was eight when she was taken from a field in West Sussex by convicted sex offender Roy Whiting.
She went on: ‘Sarah was ‘taken’ by a man while she was on holiday with her family.’
In the same RE course book, says Gemma, Milly wrote about ‘Death and Beyond’. She wrote: ‘The most important question is: ‘What is the purpose of life if death is always threatening?’
‘I think the purpose of life is ….to find a way to touch as many people as you can …’
Milly also paid tribute to BBC Crimewatch presenter Jill Dando in her English workbook in November 1999 – seven months after she was shot dead.
According to Gemma, she wrote: ‘I think Jill Dando should be a modern legend because she was very kind. She was also a television presenter.’
Milly described her death as a ‘great loss of a great person’.
‘The emotional rollercoaster we were all on was so ridiculous. You’d be fine one moment and then the police would ring and it would be like, ‘Gosh what’s going on now?’
The book is called My Sister Milly and features never seen before pictures of the schoolgirl. It also tells how Milly wrote a school essay about the murder of another abducted girl just two months before her own death. She said that what had happened to Sarah Payne in July 2000 had ‘surely stole the hearts of the nation’.
The book does not hold back in criticising Surrey Police’s handling of the case, attacking officers as being ‘fixed’ on suspecting her innocent father Bob in the early stages of the inquiry.
Another recent example of the force’s alleged mishandling of the investigation, after a jail confession by the real killer, is described by her a ‘world class **** up’. She also accuses police of trying to silence her family when they wanted to make a statement about the development. There are also forceful comments about the aggressive tactics used by lawyers representing Levi Bellfield, at his Old Bailey prosecution in 2011.
Bellfield is serving a whole life sentence for Milly’s abduction, rape and murder. He admitted his guilt in 2015 after asking to see detectives. He was already serving a whole-life jail term for the murders of Amelie Delagrange, 22, in 2004 and Marsha McDonnell, 19, in 2003, and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy, 18, in 2004.
He lived 50 yards from where Milly vanished but, as a result of the blunders by Surrey Police, did not become a suspect until arrested by Scotland Yard in 2004 for the other attacks.
Surrey Police said last night: ‘The force has apologised to the Dowler family for the impact the investigation has had and continues to have on them.’
My Sister Milly, by Gemma Dowler, published by Michael Joseph, price £20
POLICE SHAMBLES OVER CONFESSION
&amp;lt;img id=”i-42f6a369cb2d993f” src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/06/29/22/07921CE500000514-4652378-image-a-39_1498770811331.jpg” height=”378″ width=”284″ alt=”Levi Bellfield (pictured) was responsible for a series of murders and attacks on girls” class=”blkBorder img-share”/&amp;gt;
Levi Bellfield (pictured) was responsible for a series of murders and attacks on girls
Gemma Dowler accused the police of a ‘world-class f*** up’ over the way it handled Levi Bellfield’s confession.
In the book, she said her parents received a text inviting them to a police station as there was new information too sensitive to discuss on the phone.
She said Surrey Police gave ‘strangely selective information’ that left the family distraught. Officers later gave them a graphic account of what Bellfield, pictured, said. Gemma said her family’s anguish was worsened by police not issuing a statement about his confession and said they received ‘warnings’ urging them not to speak to the media about it.
She accused the police of inflicting a ‘painful shambles’ on them, adding: ‘Why should our family yet again be left holding this unspeakable secret, unable to express our pain?’
She added: ‘The police apparently facilitated everything he wants. It seems to us that confessing has only made Bellfield’s life more comfortable.’
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