Attention seeker who claimed to be Milly pleads guilty to charges

A WOMAN who called the family of missing teenager Amanda Dowler claiming to be the schoolgirl was an attention seeker, a court heard yesterday.

Lianne Newman, 21, pleaded guilty to five charges of making phone calls claiming to be Amanda Dowler to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety.

Cheltenham magistrates’ court was told how Newman, of Howles Road, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, had called police, Amanda’s teacher and her father in the month following her disappearance last March.

Opening the case, prosecutor Delia Thornton told the court how the calls had started on March 26, five days after 13-year-old Amanda, also known as Milly, disappeared as she walked home in Walton-on-Thames.

She said Sussex police received three calls that evening from a female claiming to be Amanda and saying she had been taken by force by an unknown man. Two days later a call was made to Surrey police by a woman again claiming to be Milly Dowler.

Ms Thornton told the court how in April, Newman had gone to the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford claiming to be a missing girl from Walton-on-Thames. Although she gave a different name, staff and police thought she might be Milly as she talked about the schoolgirl, her sister and their school in Surrey. Eventually Newman’s true identity was confirmed, Ms Thornton said.

On April 19 a call was made to Heathside School in Weybridge, Surrey, where Milly was a pupil, by someone claiming to be her.

Finally, later the same day, three calls were made to the Dowler family home by someone claiming to be Amanda.

Ms Thornton told how on April 23 Newman was arrested. All the calls had been made from her mobile telephone, but Newman told police in interviews she had not made the calls.

Defending Newman, Conrad Gadd told the court that two or three years ago Newman had a psychiatric assessment. He said: “She was diagnosed at that stage with a predilection for seeking attention.”

The case was adjourned until February 24 for pre-sentence and psychiatric reports to be prepared. Newman was released on unconditional bail.

Amanda’s body was found in woodland in Yateley Heath Forest near Fleet, Hampshire, last September.

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