UK & World News
Halliwell: Why Second Murder Charge Was Dropped
A man who admitted to killing two women and led police to their bodies has been convicted of only one murder after a controversial decision by the detective leading the investigation.
Christopher Halliwell has been jailed for life for the murder of 22-year-old Sian O'Callaghan in March 2011.
But a second count of murdering 21-year-old Rebecca Godden was dropped after one of the country's leading detectives, Detective Superintendent Stephen Fulcher, disregarded legal requirements on the questioning of suspects.
It meant Halliwell's confession to Det Supt Fulcher and the fact he took police to the exact spot where had buried Ms Godden could not be used as evidence in court.
As there was no other evidence, the prosecution had to be dropped.
Det Supt Fulcher has recently been suspended from Wiltshire Police in connection with the investigation.
Halliwell was arrested at a supermarket in Swindon on suspicion of kidnapping Ms O'Callaghan on March 24, 2011 - five days after she disappeared.
Det Supt Fulcher, who went on to advise officers across the country on how to conduct murder investigations, ordered an on-the-spot "urgent interview" using special police powers normally reserved for the questioning of terrorist suspects.
After it failed to produce any information on the whereabouts of Ms O'Callaghan, Det Supt Fulcher took Halliwell off for three hours and 15 minutes for a series of extraordinary private interviews, instead of taking him the seven minute journey to nearby Gablecross police station for formal questioning.
At a pre-trial hearing that journalists could not report on until now, Halliwell's defence barrister, Richard Latham QC, claimed Det Supt Fulcher resorted to "good old-fashioned threatening conduct" in order to force information out of him.
Det Supt Fulcher admitted that he did not caution Halliwell or offer him a solicitor - breaking the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE).
Ian Lawrie QC, prosecuting, told the judge at the pre-trial hearing that Det Supt Fulcher "had an equation to balance the defendant's right to silence and Sian's right to life" and that "he was an experienced officer making a judgement call".
But the judge, Mrs Justice Cox, ruled: "These were indeed significant and substantial breaches of the code in circumstances deliberately designed to persuade the defendant to speak.
"I consider it was deliberately designed to ensure the protections to which this defendant was entitled under the codes were not afforded to him."
The judge said Det Supt Fulcher's actions placed "additional pressure" upon Halliwell and also provided a "mechanism for avoiding the defendant's request for a solicitor being granted".
As a result all the evidence gathered by Mr Fulcher during those three and a quarter hours was deemed inadmissible - meaning that the charge of the murder of Ms Godden was formally dropped on what would have been her thirtieth birthday.
The whole matter has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
Det Supt Fulcher was suspended from Wiltshire Constabulary after a second allegation was sent to the IPCC in September 2012.
Detective Chief Superintendent Kier Pritchard revealed: "There has been a fresh allegation made that is also connected to this murder investigation that there was potentially inappropriate contact with the media and as a result of that a fresh IPCC referral was made by Wiltshire Police and our force faced the difficult decision that Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher would be suspended."
PACE was originally designed to prevent foul play from ruthless detectives, but Det Supt Fulcher maintains he was acting in good faith in putting the victim's rights ahead of Halliwell's.
Former Metropolitan Police Officer Graham Wettone believes this case may raise questions over whether the rules have gone too far in favour of the suspect.
He said: "PACE was introduced to safeguard suspects rights.
"This officer's made a definite decision to breach it and in this case, people might say, well what was so wrong with it - because of what they found."
Ms Godden's parents are grateful to Det Supt Fulcher for the discovery of her body. But while Halliwell has been jailed for killing Sian, because of his actions, they believe they can't get justice for their daughter.