Sally Anne Bowman (11 September 1987 – 25 September 2005) was an English singer and hairdresser and model who was murdered in the early hours of 25 September 2005 in Croydon, Greater 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.
Bowman, born on 11 September 1987 in Carshalton, Greater London to Linda and Paul Bowman (who later divorced), attended the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in Croydon. She had dreams of one day appearing on the cover of Vogue and had been compared to supermodel Kate Moss. Bowman worked part-time as a hairdresser and model. In January 2005, Bowman joined Pulse Model Management, a local modelling agency. She became the face of Swatch watches and took part in the Swatch Alternative Fashion Week in April 2005. She 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,” Bowman said, describing her experience.
At 10 p.m. on 24 September 2005, Bowman, her older sister Nicole Bowman, and a group of friends went to Lloyd’s Bar in Croydon, where they stayed until 1 a.m. After leaving the bar, Sally Anne waited outside for 15 minutes before being taken to a friend’s house by taxi.
She contacted her ex-boyfriend, Lewis Sproston, and he agreed to pick her up and take her home after she told him Nicole had been arrested for fighting. She took a taxi back into Croydon town centre, where Sproston picked her up at around 2:20 a.m. and drove her to her home in Blenheim Crescent. While in the car, Bowman and Sproston quarrelled, accusing each other of infidelity, which had contributed to their recent split. Shortly after 4 a.m., Bowman left the car and Sproston drove off. Minutes later, 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 Sproston as a suspect, and was subsequently arrested but after being held for four days, DNA evidence eliminated him as a suspect and he was released without charge.
On 28 June 2006, 35-year-old Croydon man Mark Dixie was arrested on suspicion of murdering Sally Anne Bowman.
He was charged with Sally Anne Bowman’s murder and remanded in custody to await trial.
This development came after police discovered a DNA link with the murder of Sally Anne Bowman, having taken a DNA swab from Dixie when they arrested him two weeks earlier for allegedly being involved in a brawl at the pub where he was working as a chef.
After more than 18 months on remand, Dixie went on trial at the Old Bailey on 4 February 2008, charged with the murder of Sally Anne Bowman. He admitted to having sex with Sally Anne Bowman after finding her on the ground outside her home, but denied murdering her and claimed that he did not realise she was dead or dying when he first found her.
Dixie was found guilty of Bowman’s murder by a unanimous verdict on 22 February 2008 after three hours of jury deliberation. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommended minimum of 34 years, meaning that he is unlikely to be considered for parole until at least 2040 and the age of 70. This is among the longest minimum terms ever imposed upon a single murderer.
It was then revealed that Dixie was already a convicted serial sex offender.
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.
Dixie later started work as a chef at Ye Olde Six Bells pub in Horley, Surrey.
He was arrested on 10 June 2006 in nearby Crawley, West Sussex, 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.
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.
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.
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.
‘Jealous boyfriend murdered teenage model Sally Anne after a bitter row’, claims defence
By REBECCA CAMBER
Last updated at 10:56 07 February 2008
The boyfriend of Sally Anne Bowman was accused yesterday of killing her in a jealous rage.
Lewis Sproston, 22, and his girlfriend had a furious argument on the night she died, which ended with the couple brawling in the street outside her home, a court heard yesterday.
Hours later, the 18-year-old’s nearly naked body was found in a pool of blood yards from her front door.
Pub chef Mark Dixie, 37, is on trial accused of killing the aspiring model while high on cocaine. He denies murder, although he admits having sex with her dead body.
Defending Dixie, Anthony Glass QC yesterday directly accused Mr Sproston of killing Miss Bowman following a two-hour argument.
After the row, Mr Sproston forced his girlfriend to get out of his car, and she then grabbed him by the throat and climbed on to his car bonnet in an attempt to stop him leaving, the Old Bailey heard.
But the plasterer drove off, leaving Miss Bowman alone outside her home in Croydon, South London, in the early hours of September 25, 2005. When she was found at 6.30am, she had been stabbed seven times, bitten and sexually assaulted.
Mr Sproston, of Tooting in South London, turned up at the Old Bailey yesterday wearing a light grey suit and a pair of Converse. However, he replaced his trainers with smart black shoes for the hearing.
In court, the defence barrister asked him: “Did you lose your temper and kill her?”
“No,” Mr Sproston replied. Mr Glass then said: “Had you left her dead or dying?”
Mr Sproston answered: “Are you being serious? No.”
When Miss Bowman’s body was found dumped behind a skip, suspicion quickly fell on her boyfriend, as he was the last person to see her alive.
He was arrested on suspicion of her murder later that day. At the time, he asked police: “Is this about the row with my girlfriend last night?”
The jury was told that the couple had a “bitterly jealous” relationship.
On the night of the murder, Mr Sproston picked up Miss Bowman from a night out in Croydon after she invented a story about being stranded.
Mr Glass said that Mr Sproston suspected his girlfriend had been with another man and the lie had “wound him up”.
He sent her a text message, warning: “I’m coming to meet you. If I see you with a bloke I will spit in your face.”
The couple argued for nearly two hours in his car outside her house, the court heard.
When asked what the argument was about, he said: “I thought that she was with boys that night, she thought that I was with girls. Just jealousy.”
Mr Sproston said he last saw Sally Anne at 4.10am in his rear-view mirror as he pulled away. She was walking up the driveway of her home.
Mr Glass asked Mr Sproston if he had a “guilty conscience”.
“Not really,” said the plasterer. “I thought she made it home. I thought she was perfectly well and healthy. It was just a normal argument.”
Mr Sproston, who is no longer considered a suspect, later told detectives that he had seen a man watching the couple whilst they argued.
But he said yesterday that he could not be sure whether he had imagined the sighting. Earlier, the court heard that Dixie’s DNA, bloody fingerprints and teeth marks were found on Sally Anne’s body.
The dead girl’s mother also paid tribute to her daughter yesterday. Linda Bowman, 45, described Sally Anne as a headstrong but kind girl who was on the verge of being signed by leading model agency Premier.
In a statement to the court, she said: “She could be very stubborn and opinionated. She was naive and childish.
“Having said all this she was a genuinely warm-hearted girl who adored children.”
The trial continues.