Milly Dowler’s sister Gemma gives rare interview on life after her sister’s murder


by Emma Dodds |
Published on

Milly Dowler was just 13-years-old when she went missing on the way home from school in Surrey in 2002

The case of missing Milly Dowler in 2002 was one that touched the lives of everyone in the country.

The confirmation that she had been horrifically abducted and the subsequent discovery of her body was a devastating blow, not only to her family but to all families of young girls, who couldn't help but put themselves in the shoes of the Dowlers.

Milly's parents, Sally and Bob Dowler (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

Of course, it didn't stop there - the Dowlers were heavily involved in the phone hacking scandal as reporters hacked Millie's voicemails and listened to the potentially crucial evidence which was automatically deleted 72 hours later.

This cruelly gave hope to the family that she may have deleted them herself, and therefore still be alive. Sadly, her body was found six months later.

Her older sister Gemma was 16 when Milly disappeared, and has written a book about her and her family's terrible experience entitled My Sister Milly.

Gemma and her sister Milly were very close (Credit: ITV/ This Morning) ©ITV/ This Morning

She appeared on This Morning earlier today to discuss the book and the disappearance of her sister, which took place 15 years ago this year.

Gemma, now in her 30s, told Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield that she didn't understand how life-changing the event was at the time: "I think that when we first lost Milly I didn't realise how lovely our family was so that's what has kept me fighting all of this time.

"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, rather than a newspaper.

"I feel like I've been fighting to be heard for fifteen 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."

Milly was just 13 when she disappeared (Credit: Surrey Police) ©Surrey Police

Gemma revealed that her mum contemplated suicide more than once: "Mum was always worried I would never have a future and that was her main concern. I was obviously worried that she didn't want to live anymore because at stages she said that.

"I think it's really important that I've written it all down and this is a document that everyone can refer to 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 kind of another hit.'

"There was never time to kind of grieve or be like, 'Gosh what's going on?' You just went fight or flight and ten years I was doing that."

WATCH: Gemma talk to This Morning about her sister

Gemma opened up about the phone hacking scandal, and just how excruciating that was for her family: "I did find it really hard and I was worried about what messages they'd heard and whether it was mine and the fact that I'd said, 'Milly you need to come home dad's really, really cross'.

"I was just like, 'Oh my gosh if they've heard that maybe they're going to take my dad away'. I literally thought it was going to happen on a daily basis.

"The emotional rollercoaster we all were on was so ridiculous. You'd be fine one moment and then the police would ring and then it would be like, 'Gosh what's going on now?'

"When my mum heard that she was just like, 'Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, she's alive.' And then it turned out that that wasn't the case and they'd been deleted...

"It was really, really hard then. There was quite a few kind of instances built up some hope, then people were ringing in saying they knew where Milly was and things like that."

Gemma opened up to Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on This Morning (Credit: ITV/ This Morning) ©ITV/ This Morning

She added: "I think my family knew that she wasn't going to be coming back I think really early."

But Gemma was determined to get justice, and even bravely gave the then-Prime Minister David Cameron a piece of her mind: "I said to him that he needed to 'man up' and that there were lessons to be learnt from the phone hacking and that he should be the government that made these changes because people would respect him a lot more.

"He did listen, he listened and he said, 'I'm really, really grateful you came to see me'."

Gemma and her dad after the trial of the phone hacking (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

Gemma also revealed that media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who owned the News Of The World paper that hacked Milly's phone, broke down in tears during their court case.

She said: "I can hardly remember it but I can remember him crying. He was so frail and delicate and I actually felt sorry for him because I was thinking, 'Gosh this is so much stress for you – at your age you should be putting your feet up on an island somewhere.'

"I said, 'What would you feel like if your mum's phone was hacked in her last couple of minutes?' and then he just looked down, started crying and it was a completely surreal experience.

"He did apologise. He said, 'I'm really sorry that we did this, that my organisation kind of did this and I will hopefully learn from this situation'."

Levi Bellfield raped and murdered 13-year-old Milly and also killed two other girls and seriously harmed two others (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

Gemma added that she told Mr Murdoch that had they hacked the criminal Levi Bellfield's phone, it would have "been a very different situation."

Thankfully, the Dowler family have now got to a point where they can think about the good times with Milly, after years and years of trauma: "Surprisingly in some of the darkest moments it's when I feel her the most with me."

Buy Gemma's book My Sister Milly from Amazon, £15.49.

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