Becky Godden-Edwards murder case detective faces gross misconduct allegation for rule breaking
2:36pm Monday 9th September 2013 in News
THE detective who found Becky Godden-Edwards’ body near Eastleach could face a gross misconduct hearing after his failure to follow the law had a catastrophic effect on the prosecution case against her killer.
Det Supt Steve Fulcher, who was leading the search for 22-year-old Sian O’Callaghan, is accused of breaching Police and Criminal Evidence Act rules when he interviewed suspect Christopher Halliwell instead of arresting and cautioning him.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission announced today that it had also found a case to answer for gross misconduct for ignoring force orders in his dealings with the media.
Halliwell, who admitted murdering Sian and was last year jailed for life, had shown police the location of her body when he indicated he had committed another murder.
According to the rules Halliwell should have been arrested and cautioned at that point, but they were driven to the field at Eastleach and Becky’s grave was found a decade after her disappearance.
Her father John complained to the IPCC that the detective’s actions led to the second murder charge against Halliwell being dropped.
IPCC deputy chairman Rachel Cerfontyne said: "This investigation has been a highly unusual one, as the majority of facts, in particular in relation to Mr Godden's complaint, are undisputed and already in the public domain.
"We will never know what may have happened if the PACE Codes had been followed. However, Detective Superintendent Fulcher's actions were in deliberate breach of PACE and we find that he has a case to answer for gross misconduct.
"Also, Detective Superintendent Fulcher, despite no longer having responsibility for Operation Mayan, and against express orders, went ahead with meetings about the case with journalists from both the BBC and ITV.
"This behaviour is even more extraordinary when set in the context that the trial Judge had already considered whether force press conferences given by Detective Superintendent Fulcher were prejudicial to the case against Halliwell.
"We find that he has a case for gross misconduct for this as well and it will now be for Wiltshire Police to decide what action to take and I await their proposals.”
In a statement Wiltshire Police said: “We are taking this matter very seriously and we are currently in the process of carefully considering the recommendations made within the report and our subsequent response to the IPCC.
"We will be taking into account the needs of the families whilst deliberating the recommendations.”