UK & World News
Rebecca Godden Detective: Misconduct Case Call
An experienced detective who failed to caution a murder suspect, leading to the case against him being dismissed by a judge, should face a gross misconduct case, an independent investigation has found.
Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher was found to have breached the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and ignored orders from his own force while head of the Wiltshire Police investigation into the murders of Sian O'Callaghan and Rebecca Godden in Swindon.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigated Mr Fulcher's conduct during his running of Operation Mayan - the inquiry into the murder of Miss O'Callaghan in March 2011.
Taxi driver Christopher Halliwell, 49, was subsequently jailed for life for her murder.
A second murder charge against the father-of-three - that of killing Miss Godden - was dismissed, however, after a High Court judge ruled that Mr Fulcher had breached Halliwell's rights by failing to caution him and denying him a solicitor in an attempt to force information out of him.
The IPCC said it investigated three separate matters.
The first followed a complaint from Miss Godden's father, John, that Mr Fulcher's actions led to the charge against Halliwell for murdering his daughter being dropped.
The second and third were matters referred to the IPCC concerned Mr Fulcher's release of information to the media and his contact with members of the media in connection with Operation Mayan.
IPCC Deputy Chair 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 (Police and Criminal Evidence Act) 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."
She added that despite no longer having responsibility for Operation Mayan and against an express order, Mr Fulcher went ahead with meetings with journalists from the BBC and ITV.
"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," she said.
A Wiltshire police spokeswoman 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.
"Wiltshire Police are continuing to offer welfare support to D/Supt Fulcher throughout this on-going process.
"It would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this stage."
It emerged earlier this year that Mr Fulcher had returned to work after a period of suspension.
The force refused to say when the experienced detective returned or what post he holds.
Miss O'Callaghan, 22, disappeared after leaving a nightclub in Swindon on March 19, 2011. Her body was found five days later in Uffington, Oxfordshire.
Miss Godden, 20, was last seen in Swindon on December 27, 2002. Her body was found in Eastleach, Gloucestershire, in March 2011.