Taxi driver Christopher Halliwell is jailed for 25 years for murdering Sian O'Callaghan but will escape justice over second murder because of police blunder

He also confessed to police that he had killed drug addict Becky Godden-Edwards, but he will never stand trial for her death. Why? Because the police failed to follow procedure

A taxi driver who abducted and killed a young clubber has escaped prosecution for the murder of a second victim despite confessing to police and leading them to the exact spot where she was buried.

Following his arrest for one murder, Chris Halliwell took police to two sites 30 miles apart where he had dumped the bodies of the young women in unconnected killings.

But major breaches of the rules governing the way police question suspects meant that he would stand trial for only one of them, it can be revealed.

The senior officer in the case, Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, has been suspended and faces an inquiry into his actions during the investigation. However the officer, a respected senior detective, yesterday received strong backing for his actions from the families of both women.

Taxi driver Halliwell, 48, was jailed for life yesterday at Bristol Crown Court after he admitted murdering Sian O'Callaghan, 22, in a sexually-motivated attack after picking her up outside a Swindon nightclub in March last year. He will serve a minimum of 25 years in prison.

The divorced father-of-three drove her to a remote forest where he stabbed her twice before dumping her body down a steep bank by the side of quiet rural road. The court heard that Halliwell then put missing posters of the young woman in the back of his taxi even as he tried to clear up traces of her blood inside.

He was arrested five days into the hunt but initially refused to tell police where he had dumped the body. He finally agreed after a nine-minute interview with Det Supt Fulcher, who took him to an isolated hilltop, accompanied only by a civilian note taker.

The killer then asked the astonished detective if he wanted "another one" and led him to another field in south Gloucestershire, some 30 miles away, where he had buried Rebecca Godden-Edwards, a drug addict last seen in 2002. Her family learned only ten years later that she was dead on what would have been her 29th birthday.

A judge ruled earlier this year that Halliwell would not stand trial for that killing because of "serious and irretrievable" breaches in the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act governing the treatment of suspects that protects them from "oppressive" questioning.

Mrs Justice Cox found that Halliwell had been denied contact with a solicitor despite repeatedly asking for one in the four hours after his arrest.

He was finally taken to a police station and given legal representation, but has since refused to talk to police about the case.

However, outside the court yesterday, Ms Godden-Edwards' family said they "fully backed" the detective despite the collapse of the murder case. No forensic evidence was found on Ms Godden-Edwards' remains and the best chance of ever securing a conviction was if Halliwell confessed to another person, said Nick Hawkins, the chief crown prosecutor for Wessex. "We are very much in Mr Halliwell's hands if he wants to volunteer anything," he said.

Det Supt Fulcher is being investigated by the independent police watchdog and was suspended several weeks ago for "inappropriate contact" with the media during the case.

In a ringing endorsement of the officer, Ms O'Callaghan's father, Michael, told reporters: "I want to put on record the wonderful job that Steve Fulcher did finding our daughter so early."

Police are trawling through files to try to discover if Halliwell was responsible for any other killings. In the days after Ms O'Callaghan's killing, he told a colleague: "Who knows what or who you find buried out there. There could be lots of people over the years."

Two lives: the victims

Sian O'Callaghan

Ms O'Callaghan, 22, had just moved in with her boyfriend, Kevin Reape, when she was abducted and killed by Chris Halliwell. She had visited a number of Swindon nightspots with her friends. When she was reported missing the following morning by her worried partner, hundreds of people turned out to join the search.

Rebecca Godden-Edwards

A "beautiful and intelligent girl" whose life spiralled downwards into some "very dark places" after becoming addicted to drugs in her teenage years. Her family last saw her alive when she left the family home in 2001 after a conviction for burglary and theft to feed her habit. She told her family that she could not keep putting them through hell and would only return when she was clean. She never came back. Halliwell told police that he killed her at some point between 2003 and 2005.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Sport
football
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk