England

Becky Godden murder: Christopher Halliwell given whole-life sentence

Christopher Halliwell and Becky Godden
Image caption Halliwell was convicted of killing Swindon woman Becky Godden during a trial at Bristol Crown Court

A "calculating and devious" taxi driver has been handed a whole-life sentence for murdering 20-year-old Becky Godden, who disappeared in 2003.

Christopher Halliwell is already serving a life term for killing Sian O'Callaghan in 2011.

The 52-year-old evaded justice for five years over Ms Godden's death due to police breaching arrest guidelines.

At Bristol Crown Court, judge Sir John Griffiths Williams said Halliwell's defence was a "cock and bull story".

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Media captionDet Supt Sean Memory described Halliwell as a 'horrible manipulative murderer'

Ms Godden, a sex worker who struggled with drug addiction, went missing after a night out in Swindon.

Jurors heard she argued with Halliwell before getting into his taxi.

'More victims'

For several years, her family believed she had moved to the Bristol area and didn't immediately report her missing.

While police were investigating the disappearance of Ms O'Callaghan, Halliwell offered to take police to "another one" and led Det Supt Steve Fulcher to a field in Gloucestershire where Becky Godden's remains were found.

However, arrest guidelines were not met which meant his confession was inadmissible when the case first went to court.

Image copyright Wiltshire Police
Image caption Halliwell admitted killing Sian O'Callaghan in 2011

The charge of murdering Miss Godden was withdrawn until March, when an investigation by Wiltshire Police uncovered overwhelming evidence against Halliwell which meant the confession could be used.

Wiltshire Police have said they will be speaking to other forces about more potential Halliwell victims.

The judge told him he would die in prison, adding: "I have no doubt that you are a self-centred and domineering individual who wants his own way. You are both calculating and devious."


How do whole-life sentences work?

Whole-life tariffs are reserved for offenders judged to be the most dangerous to society.

Offenders who receive them cannot be released other than at the discretion of the justice secretary on compassionate grounds, for example if they are terminally ill or seriously incapacitated.

They are not eligible for a parole review or release but can have their sentence reduced on appeal.

Notorious current whole-life prisoners include police killer Dale Cregan, Mark Bridger, who murdered five-year-old April Jones, Michael Adebolajo, who along with Michael Adebowale killed Fusilier Lee Rigby, and Moors murderer Ian Brady.

There were 53 prisoners serving "whole life" sentences in England and Wales at the end of June 2016, according to official Ministry of Justice statistics.

They made up 0.7% of the 7,361 prisoners serving life sentences.


He added: "You returned to her body again and again over the years to make sure she hadn't been discovered.

"But for your confession, I have no doubt Becky's remains would never have been found.

"You then tried to manipulate the police and the court process to try to avoid getting what you deserved."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Becky worked as a prostitute in Swindon and struggled with drug addiction
Image copyright PA
Image caption This photo was taken of Becky when she was 15 years old

The judge told Becky's parents: "You have had to live with every parent's nightmare of a missing child and then the discovery that she had been dead for some years, buried naked in a field.

"You have been deprived of the opportunity we all want to say farewell to our closest and dearest."

'Halliwell played games'

In a victim impact statement read to the court by the prosecution, Becky's mother, Karen Edwards, said: "What must she have gone through?

"My whole world has been destroyed. The only thing I can buy her is flowers for her grave.

"I never had a body to kiss goodbye before she was buried."

A statement from Becky's father said: "I always blocked out what she was doing. I do not like to hear how she was used.

"All I've ever wanted was to know the truth. I just wish we could've had closure when Becky was discovered years ago.

"Halliwell has played games with us. Becky will always remain with me, never forgotten. I will live with my memories of her."

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Media captionJohn Godden, Becky's father, believes Wiltshire Police should be investigated

Speaking outside of court, Becky's father John Godden said he was angry about how his daughter had been portrayed and he criticised the police investigation into her death.

He said: "I can tell you wonderful things about Becky. Absolutely wonderful things. I am actually sick and tired about the way she's being portrayed.

"She's being portrayed as if she deserved to get murdered. No matter what she did in her life, she didn't deserve to get murdered. And she deserved justice six years ago.

"The Wiltshire Police are massively at fault."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Miss Godden's remains were found in a remote field near Eastleach in Gloucestershire
Image caption Soil found in Christopher Halliwell's home in Swindon was also found on a spade and pickaxe
Image copyright Wiltshire Police
Image caption Soil on a spade found in Christopher Halliwell's shed matched that from the field where Becky Godden's remains were found

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