The sister of Milly Dowler has spoken of the “horrendous” trauma her family went through after the 13-year-old was abducted, raped and murdered.
Milly disappeared on her way home from school in Walton On Thames, Surrey, in 2002.
Serial killer Levi Bellfield was found guilty of her murder and given a whole-life prison sentence in June 2011.
Gemma Dowler told The One Show: “I knew as soon as the police were called I was never going to see Milly again.”
Ms Dowler was speaking ahead of the release of her book entitled My Sister Milly.
It begins in 1988 – the year of Milly’s birth – and tells her story up until she was abducted.
It also sheds light on the family’s plight, from the abduction, to the discovery of the body, the high-profile trial and its aftermath.
She said: “I felt like I was never really heard, or allowed to be heard. We hoped we would be able to bring her back to life in the book.
“Now, I feel so proud and I have done everything I can for my sister.”
Gemma said when the police first came to the house, she felt “judged and unprotected”.
“They went to her bedroom and looked through her stuff and I felt Milly would be cross,” she said.
“On the night Milly went missing, the next morning I lost my childhood.
“My family and friends, everyone went into trauma at different times. No-one knew how to talk to each other.
“I felt so shut away, so desperate. The only thing I wanted to do was find Milly.”
Milly’s body was found six months later, 25 miles away in a wood in Yateley Heath, Hampshire.
Last year, harrowing details of Milly’s 14-hour ordeal were made public in a statement by the family.
Gemma said the day Bellfield went to court was the “worst day” for her. She revealed how her mother broke down and let out a “blood curdling” scream.
“She was being restrained, she was inconsolable… It was horrendous.”
Later, it emerged messages on Milly’s phone had been illegally intercepted by the News of The World.
Gemma confessed: “At that point, my mum said if he wasn’t found guilty, she wanted a joint suicide pact – it was that bad.”
My Sister Milly, published by Michael Joseph, a division of Penguin Random House, will be released on 29 June.
Milly Dowler Timeline
- March 2002: Milly Dowler is last seen walking home from Walton-on-Thames railway station after school
- September 2002: Milly’s remains are found in Hampshire and identified by dental records. The case becomes a murder investigation
- March 2010: Former bouncer and convicted murderer Levi Bellfield, who lived near Walton station, is charged with Milly’s murder
- June 2011: Bellfield is found guilty and jailed for life
- July 2011: News of the World is closed down by Rupert Murdoch in the wake of the Milly Dowler phone hacking revelations
- November 2011: The Leveson Inquiry is held into the culture, practice and ethics of the press