Murderer Donovan Moodley is almost at the end of the road in his bizarre attempt to prove that he never intended to kill 21-year-old Leigh Matthews.

This morning he lost his appeal against his life sentence when Johannesburg High Court Judge Joop Labuschagne denied him leave to appeal and permission for the noting of a special entry.

As Moodley went back to the cells he handed a note to journalists, who gave it to investigating officer Director Piet Byleveld.

In the handwritten note he said: "For five years now I've spent every breath of mine in a pursuit for freedom. Five years on I am still a media favourite. A country sickened by crime must choose an official face for crime and a mascot for evil. Is it me?"

Reiterating his intention to fight his way out of jail, he wrote: "I want to make this clear, that I will stop at nothing, leaving no legal means untried. It is my right to pursue justice."

In his application, Moodley asked that the court first overlook the fact that his application came four years after the appeal deadline had passed.

Then he argued that Judge Labuschagne had "misdirected himself in finding that life imprisonment was the appropriate sentence in the circumstances and thereby imposed a sentence that is shockingly inappropriate in the circumstances".

During his trial in 2005 Moodley confessed to having kidnapped Matthews, taken R50 000 ransom money from her father and then shot her dead. Judge Labuschagne found him guilty, but ruled that he had not acted alone and that the State had proved that Leigh's body had been kept in cold storage and later placed at a staged crime scene.

Moodley admitted to none of this, apart from making vague claims in a handwritten note submitted to court when he withdrew his original appeal on November 18, 2005.

In that note he stated that Matthews had been killed by "dangerous" men, that he was at last in a position to tell the truth and that he would change his plea to not guilty if granted a retrial.

This morning Judge Labuschagne ruled that Moodley had presented "little information for the extreme lateness" of his application and his explanation of an unnamed aunt having offered help and then disappearing twice were "extremely meagre and totally unsatisfactory".

On the question of his ruling that the murder had been premeditated, the judge stood by his earlier ruling that Moodley had "certainly and deliberately weighed up properly" his criminal conduct.

"I am not persuaded that I misdirected myself in any way," he said, dismissing both the application for condonation and leave to appeal.

On the special entry, Judge Labuschagne also ruled against Moodley.

"I am of the view that the application is frivolous and granting it would be an abuse of the process of court and would lead to an appeal where there is no prospect of success."

Moodley, now lean and gaunt, remained stone-faced throughout, but chatted animatedly to his counsel, advocate Charles Thompson, once proceedings were over.

Thompson said Moodley was disappointed but would now petition the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Matthews' parents, Rob and Sharon, were relieved that Moodley's appeal was dismissed.

"We could not have asked for better news on the eve of 16 Days of Activism (for No Violence Against Women and Children)," Rob said.