LONDON, July 19 (UPI) -- Two British tabloids, the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror, were found guilty Wednesday of contempt of court for stories about a young girl's killer.
The High Court found the newspapers' coverage last year -- after Levi Bellfield was convicted of the 2002 murder of 12-year-old schoolgirl Milly Dowler -- was "prejudicial" because jurors were still considering a separate charge that Bellfield tried to abduct another girl, The Daily Telegraph reported. Jurors were dismissed without reaching a verdict.
Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Mail, and MGN, which publishes the Mirror, argued the coverage in their papers about Bellfield would not have influenced the jury.
Attorney Dominic Grieve, who brought the case, said newspapers must obey the Contempt of Court Act.
''It is unfortunate that the deluge of media coverage following the Milly Dowler verdict, not only by these papers but also other media outlets, led to the judge discharging the jury before they had completed their deliberations on a charge of attempted kidnap, ultimately depriving Rachel Cowles of a verdict in her case," he said.
Cowles, now 21, said last year she was "hurt and angry" that there was no resolution of the charge that Bellfield tried to kidnap her when she was 11.
The Milly Dowler case is at the center of the phonehacking scandal, which exploded last year after The Guardian reported that a detective working for Rupert Murdoch's now defunct Sunday tabloid, News of the World, had hacked into her cellphone messages while she was missing.
A spokesman for Associated Newspapers said jurors had heard far more prejudicial information in the courtroom and had already convicted Bellfield of murder: "In the course of the trial, the jury were told that Bellfield had been convicted of the murders of two young women, Marsha McDonnell and Amelie Delagrange, and the attempted murder of another, Kate Sheedy."