Mother cries as she tells of Milly's last few days

MILLY Dowler's mother collapsed in tears yesterday after being questioned about her daughter's last few days alive.

When she finished her evidence, Sally Dowler was helped from the witness box by an usher into the arms of her husband, Bob.

Sobbing, Mrs Dowler had to be helped from the courtroom at the Old Bailey by Mr Dowler and a woman police officer.

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As she went through the door, she called out "Oh…" but the rest of her cry was inaudible.

It was the second day of emotional turmoil for the Dowler family.

On Monday, Mr Dowler, 59, wept after admitting in cross- examination that he had initially been suspected by police when Milly disappeared.

Mrs Dowler, 51, who had been a teacher at 13-year-old Milly's school in Weybridge, Surrey, was first reduced to tears yesterday as she denied a defence suggestion that her older daughter, Gemma, had been the favourite child.

Levi Bellfield, 42, denies abducting and murdering Milly and attempting to kidnap Rachel Cowles, aged 11, in March 2002.

Milly disappeared "in the blink of an eye" after leaving Walton-on-Thames station, Surrey, and beginning her walk home along Station Avenue.

The prosecution says Bellfield was living yards away and murdered Milly in his flat before dumping the body. Her remains were found six months later in woods 25 miles away.

During the hour in which Mrs Dowler gave evidence, she told of a family holiday to Mexico and Cuba in the new year.

"It was fantastic, I am so glad we had it," she said.

The week she last saw Milly had been busy but not stressful. Milly was looking forward to going to a Pop Idol concert. She had been anxious about exams, but had not been depressed.