Wiltshire Police blunders to be investigated
THE Independent Police Complaints Commission is to investigate complaints against Wiltshire Police, after a series of blunders allowed a Swindon man to get away with murder.
Christopher Halliwell, 48, was sentenced to life in prison during proceedings at Bristol Crown Court last Friday, after pleading guilty to murdering Sian O’Callaghan, but may never face justice for a second murder he confessed to committing nearly 10 years earlier.
Halliwell abducted and killed Sian after she left a nightclub in Swindon in the early hours of March 19, 2011. He was arrested on March 24 and confessed to the murder, but also indicated he had murdered Becky Godden-Edwards between 2003 and 2005.
But High Court judge Mrs Justice Laura Cox said the evidence had been "tainted" by the actions of the senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, who committed "significant and substantial" breaches of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE).
When an initial "urgent interview" failed to obtain information on Sian’s whereabouts, DSI Fulcher instructed officers to send Halliwell to Barbury Castle near Marlborough, where he believed the murder may have taken place.
Mrs Justice Cox said: "The defendant’s removal to Barbury Castle, for the purposes of a further urgent interview, would not only have resulted in the placing of additional pressure upon him, but also provided a mechanism for avoiding the defendant’s request for a solicitor being granted, as it would have been had he been in the police station."
At Barbury Castle, the senior investigating officer failed to remind the defendant he was still under caution and threatened Halliwell would be vilified by the press if he did not do "the right thing" by helping police to locate Sian. Mrs Justice Cox said the failure to caution, even when investigating a serious offence, amounted to a substantial breach of the Code.
"His decision not to caution the defendant was a deliberate one, precisely because the defendant might have done what he would later be told he could do – stay silent," she said.
After leading DSI Fulcher to the site of Sian’s body, Halliwell started to confess to the murder of Becky Godden-Edwards, but he was still not cautioned or arrested, despite the requirements of PACE.
IPCC commissioner Naseem Malik said: "Now that the criminal process has concluded the IPCC can start its investigation into the police investigation into the tragic deaths of these two young women."