Killer cabbie led police to body of Becky Godden-Edwards but may never face trial
THE parents of a girl whose alleged killer led police to the site of her body in Eastleach looked on today as he pleaded guilty to another murder, knowing they had been denied justice due to a police blunder.
Taxi driver Christopher Halliwell, 48, of Ashbury Avenue in Swindon, was charged with the murder of Becky Godden-Edwards on May 23 last year, after leading police to the site of her remains, which had been buried in a field at Baxter’s Farm in Eastleach.
Halliwell confessed to murdering Becky, who had been missing since 2003, after being charged with the murder of Sian O’Callaghan on March 27, 2011, but High Court judge Mrs Justice Laura Cox ruled the evidence invalid, because methods used to obtain the confession breached the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.
Detective Superintendent Stephen Fulcher, who led the investigation, ignored legal requirements on the questioning of suspects by failing to caution him and denying him a solicitor.
As a result, Halliwell's confession to DS Fulcher and the fact that he subsequently took police to where he had buried Ms Godden-Edwards could not be used as evidence.
"These were indeed significant and substantial breaches of the codes, in circumstances deliberately designed to persuade the defendant to speak," the judge said.
She added: "Admissibility of this evidence would have such an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings that it ought not to be admitted."
DCI Kier Pritchard of Wiltshire Police said the forceful questioning techniques had been used to obtain information quickly.
"The objective was to locate Sian and bring her back to safety," he said. "The ‘urgent interview’ was designed to secure quick information."
Sian was abducted and murdered in the early hours of Saturday, March 19 last year, after leaving a nightclub in Swindon. Police believe Halliwell murdered Becky between 2003 and 2005.
Becky’s parents were informed the charge could not be pursued in March this year, after Halliwell’s confession was ruled invalid. Chief crown prosecutor Nick Hawkins of the Crown Prosecution Service Wessex said the case could only be pursued if new evidence came to light.
"Becky’s parents were clearly very disappointed that we could not bring the prosecution, but Mrs Justice Cox is an experienced judge and she has made her position clear," he said.
Lead officer, DS Fulcher, was suspended from duty three weeks ago and has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
DCI Pritchard said future advances in forensic science could provide further evidence. "We are dealing with the remains of a woman who was killed seven years ago, so forensic evidence is limited," he said. "Clearly we are looking to bring Becky’s killer to justice."
Halliwell was charged by police with the murder of Becky Godden-Edwards on May 23, 2011, but the charge has never been put to him in court.
Mr Hawkins said the charge had not been dropped, but the Crown Prosecution Service was not pursuing the charge at this time.