Murder of Sally Anne Bowman

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Sally Anne Bowman
Sally Anne Bowman.jpg
Born (1987-09-11)11 September 1987
Sutton, London, United Kingdom
Died 25 September 2005(2005-09-25) (aged 18)
Croydon, London, United Kingdom
Cause of death
Murder by stabbing
Residence Croydon
Occupation Model
Partner(s) Lewis Sproston
Parents Paul and Linda Bowman

Sally Anne Bowman (11 September 1987 – 25 September 2005), an up-and-coming British model, was murdered on 25 September 2005 in Croydon, South London. Bowman, aged 18 at the time of her death, had been robbed, raped and repeatedly stabbed. Mark Dixie, who had a history of robbery and sexual offences, was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommended minimum of 34 years.

Life and career[edit]

Bowman attended the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in Croydon. She had dreams of one day appearing on the cover of Vogue magazine and had been compared to Kate Moss, also from Croydon. In January 2005, Bowman joined Pulse Model Management, a local talent agency. She took part in the Swatch Alternative Fashion Week in April of the same year and described her experience there. "I was so nervous all week particularly when all the models were lined up and the designers chose who they wanted to model their clothes—luckily I was picked by loads of designers which gave me more confidence."[1][2]

Murder[edit]

On the night of 25 September 2005, at the age of 18, Bowman was stabbed in the neck and stomach, and then raped as she lay dead or dying. Her handbag, cardigan, underwear and mobile phone were stolen. Police initially treated Bowman's boyfriend Lewis Sproston as a suspect, as he was the last person known to have seen her alive and admitted that they had argued just before she left. He was subsequently arrested but after being held for four days, DNA evidence eliminated him as a suspect.[3]

Mark Dixie was accused and charged with the assault and murder of Bowman. At the Old Bailey on 22 February 2008, Dixie was found guilty of Bowman's murder by a unanimous verdict after three hours of jury deliberation. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommended minimum of 34 years, by which time he will be 70 years old. This is among the longest minimum terms ever imposed upon a single murderer.[4] It was then revealed that Dixie was already a convicted serial sex offender.[5][6]

Following Dixie's murder conviction, Detective Superintendent Stuart Cundy, who had led the Bowman investigation, said: "It is my opinion that a national DNA register—with all its appropriate safeguards—could have identified Bowman's murderer within 24 hours. Instead it took nearly nine months before Mark Dixie was identified, and almost two-and-a-half years for justice to be done."

The calls for a such a register were, however, turned down by ministers and other politicians who claimed that it would raise practical as well as civil liberties issues.[7]

A documentary about the murder was broadcast on BBC1 at 10.35pm on 8 April 2008. Another TV documentary, as part of ITV's Real Crime series documented Bowman's killing, with interviews, the history of the case and reconstructions included. It was shown on 29 June 2009.

Mark Dixie[edit]

Main article: Mark Dixie
Mark Philip Dixie
Born (1970-09-24) 24 September 1970 (age 44)
Streatham, London, UK
Other names Mark Down
Mark McDonald
Steven McDonald
Shane Turner
Occupation Chef
Criminal penalty
Life imprisonment with a minimum term of 34 years
Children 3

Mark Philip Dixie (born 24 September 1970) was born in Streatham. When he was 18 months old, his parents separated. When he was 8, his mother remarried; she had two sons by her new husband. Dixie took his stepfather's surname, McDonald.

Dixie's criminal record begins in 1986. Between then and 1990, he was found guilty of robbery, burglary, assaulting a police officer, indecent assault, indecent exposure and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. He lived in Australia from January 1993 until he was deported back to the UK in April 1999 after being fined for indecent exposure. He lived in London until moving to Spain in 2002. He moved back to England in 2003.[8]

Dixie later started work as a chef at Ye Olde Six Bells pub in Horley, Surrey.[9] He was arrested on 10 June 2006 in nearby Crawley, West Sussex,[10] after being involved in a fight while watching an England vs Trinidad and Tobago World Cup football match. His DNA was taken and matched with that of Bowman's killer.[11]

Dixie denied the murder. As part of his defence he claimed he had spent the night drinking and taking drugs, and had gone out to buy more cocaine. He claimed to have come across the body of Bowman, murdered, he said, by a third party, and had sex with her after she was killed.

Dixie's DNA matches that left at a sexual assault in 2001, where it is believed he masturbated in front of a woman in a telephone booth.[12]

In October 2006, Dixie's DNA was sent to Western Australia to be tested against that of the DNA evidence in the Claremont serial killer case between 1996 and 1997, as it is believed he was in the area at the time of the killings, and may have committed them.[12] At his trial for the murder of Bowman, an unnamed Thai woman gave evidence that Dixie had stabbed and raped her in Australia in June 1998 in Subiaco, Western Australia whilst Dixie was burgling her house; Dixie has yet to be formally charged with this attack, though a DNA sample from the woman's underwear has been matched to him.[13]

Aftermath[edit]

On 11 September 2008, a memorial was held to mark what would have been Bowman's 21st birthday. Balloons were released in Central Croydon outside Primark along North End.[citation needed]

References[edit]