Taxi driver charged with Swindon murder

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The Independent Online

A taxi driver accused of murdering Sian O'Callaghan after she disappeared from a nightclub will appear before magistrates in Swindon today. Christopher Halliwell, 47, was charged by detectives on Saturday night after the 22-year-old's body was discovered close to the Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire on Thursday.

The development comes as detectives continue an extensive search of a field in Gloucestershire where another set of human remains was found on Saturday. Police believe they are the bones of a woman aged between 23 and 30 who was abducted in Swindon between 2003 and 2005. Further forensic tests and a post-mortem examination are being carried out on the body, which is yet to be identified.

Simon Brenchley, district crown prosecutor for the CPS in Wiltshire, said yesterday he had authorised Wiltshire Police to charge Mr Halliwell, of Ashbury Avenue, Swindon, with Ms O'Callaghan's murder. Mr Halliwell, who was arrested on Thursday, remained in police custody at Gablecross Police Station last night.

Police have been digging on Baxter's Farm, near Eastleach in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, since Thursday evening. Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, who is leading the investigation, said the search at the site was expected to continue for the time being. He said: "Bones recovered from the site at Eastleach are believed to be that of a young woman. It has been indicated to me that this young woman was taken from the Swindon area some time between 2003 and 2005."

He repeated his appeal for anyone out poaching or "lamping" in the area of Ramsbury, near Marlborough, in the early hours of Saturday 19 March – the night Ms O'Callaghan disappeared – to contact police without fear of arrest. Lamping is the practice of hunting animals with the aid of powerful lights and either guns or dogs.

Ms O'Callaghan, a PA for a company director, was last seen alive in CCTV footage filmed close to Suju nightclub in Swindon after a night out with friends. She lived in a flat only half a mile away with her boyfriend Kevin Reape, 25. Her body was recovered from an area 15 miles east of the town.

On Saturday night, thousands of people gathered to remember Ms O'Callaghan at Swindon's Polo Ground. They launched hundreds of Chinese lanterns and balloons and held a two- minute silence. Suju nightclub reopened on Saturday after hundreds of floral tributes were removed.