Taxi driver killer escapes charge over second murder due to police blunder
Taxi driver Christopher Halliwell, who is beginning a life sentence for the murder of nightclubber Sian O’Callaghan, has escaped justice over a second murder because of a police blunder.
• Halliwell confessed to the murders of Sian O’Callaghan and Becky Godden-Edwards
• He pleaded guilty to the murder of Miss O’Callaghan but the charge relating to the murder of Miss Godden-Edwards was dropped
• High court judge ruled that Halliwell’s confession relating to Miss Godden-Edwards’ murder was inadmissable due to police blunders
Halliwell, 48, confessed to a senior detective to murdering Miss O’Callaghan and missing prostitute Rebecca Godden, 28, and even led officers to their bodies.
A High Court judge ruled the admissions the father-of-three made during a three-hour period on the day of his arrest were inadmissible because Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher breached police guidelines governing the interviewing of suspects.
The detective, who was leading the hunt for Miss O’Callaghan, failed to caution Halliwell and denied him a solicitor. The ruling by Mrs Justice Cox meant that Wiltshire Police had no other evidence against Halliwell to link him to the Miss Godden’s murder and the charge was withdrawn.
The father of Miss Godden hit out at police, saying they had “made massive mistakes”.
“It seems to me: ‘Come to Swindon, commit murder and you’ll get away with it,’” John Godden said. “And that’s the way I feel. I’ll never put my trust in the police again. Why should we pay with this pain? For somebody else’s mistakes? I want proper closure. I want closure. I want justice.”
Her mother, Karen Edwards, said the fight for answers would continue.
“After a very complicated and very painful journey over the past 18 months, Sian’s family have today had the justice for the murder of their beautiful daughter,” she said. “However, our family’s fight for justice for Becky has only just begun.”
Wiltshire Police vowed to catch Miss Godden’s killer and revealed Mr Fulcher has been suspended pending an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) into allegations of “inappropriate contact with the media”.
It also emerged yesterday that the police watchdog had upheld three complaints made to the force about the investigation, which were not related to Mr Fulcher’s alleged conduct.
Miss O’Callaghan, 22, disappeared after leaving Swindon’s Suju nightclub in the early hours of 19 March last year after a night out with friends.
On the night she vanished, Halliwell had signed off from work, but instead of going home he cruised the town’s streets in his green Toyota Avensis taxi looking for a victim. As she made the short walk to the home she shared with boyfriend Kevin Reape, she fell into Halliwell’s clutches by getting into his taxi.
Police believe Halliwell, who did not know her, took the young woman to the Savernake Forest where he murdered her.
Detectives discovered that in the 24 hours after Miss O’Callaghan was abducted, Halliwell made four visits to the area where her body was hidden.
It is thought that by the early hours of 21 March, Halliwell had moved the body from the forest to the spot where it was later found. Halliwell was arrested on 24 March.
Over a three-hour period – without being cautioned or offered a solicitor – Halliwell admitted he was a “sick f*****”, confessed to murdering the two women and showed police the locations of their bodies. During that time, Halliwell was threatened by Mr Fulcher with being vilified in newspapers.
Eventually, he was taken to a police station and cautioned. Before a solicitor even arrived, the detective announced live on television that Miss O’Callaghan’s remains had been found and the location of a second body had been identified to police. Miss O’Callaghan’s semi-naked body was found down a steep bank and had suffered a brutal attack.
Halliwell, of Asbury Avenue, Swindon, was jailed for life after pleading guilty at Bristol Crown Court to murder.
‘We did think she was alive’: Rebecca Godden
THE 28-year-old was gripped by the evils of drug addiction and her desperate need for heroin had driven her on to the streets.
Miss Godden’s family did everything they could to help her overcome her addiction. And having fallen into some very dark places, she decided not to put those who loved her the most through any more pain and moved away.
Her disappearance caused barely a ripple. For more than eight years, Miss Godden’s family had no idea where she was, believing she was living in Bristol.
Her mother, Karen Edwards, never gave up hope that she would one day come home and continued to buy her Christmas and birthday cards each year.
Mrs Edwards said her daughter had fallen in with the wrong crowd when she was a teenager and had started taking drugs.
She said: “Life was hard before when she was living the life of an addict, but we really did think she was alive and that one day she would come back home.”
‘A bubbly and loving girl’: Sian O’Callaghan
SIAN O’Callaghan, 22, was the girl next door with everything to look forward to.
The office worker was at the happiest point of her life, having recently moved in with her boyfriend of three years Kevin Reape.
Family members described Miss O’Callaghan as someone who was liked by everyone and who wanted to be a mother.
“Sian was a bubbly, friendly, caring and loving girl. She was instantly likeable, beautiful and considerate,” Mick O’Callaghan, her father, said.
For that reason, they immediately feared the worst after finding out the brunette was missing. On the night of 18 March, 2011 Miss O’Callaghan had gone out with girlfriends in the Old Town area of Swindon.
At 2:52am she was captured on CCTV leaving Suju’s nightclub – less than half a mile from the flat she shared with Mr Reape. When she failed to return home, her boyfriend sent her a text, saying: “Worried x.”
The following morning, Mr Reape, fearing the worst, called the police.
Transcript of Halliwell interview
This is a transcript of the notes taken by Debbie Peach, a civilian police worker, of an interview between Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher and Christopher Halliwell. The nine-minute grilling took place at Barbury Castle in rural Wiltshire when the experienced detective asked Halliwell, who he had not cautioned or offered a solicitor, to confess to where missing Sian O’Callaghan was. The transcript was read during a pre-trial court hearing and the accuracy was not disputed.
SF (Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher): Are you going to tell me where Sian is?
CH (Christopher Halliwell): I don’t know anything.
SF: Are you going to show me where Sian is?
CH: I want to go to the station.
SF: Are you prepared to tell me where Sian is?
CH: You think I did it.
SF: I know you did it.
CH: Can I go to the station?
SF: You can go to the station.
What will happen is that you
will be vilified.
CH: I want to speak to a solicitor.
SF: In one hour’s time you will be in the press.
CH: I want to speak to a solicitor.
SF: You will speak to a solicitor. I’m giving you an opportunity to tell me where Sian is. By the end of this cycle you will be vilified. Tell me where Sian is.
CH: Have you got a car? We’ll go.”
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