Christopher Halliwell admits Sian O'Callaghan murder

Sian O'Callaghan
Image caption Sian O'Callaghan was stabbed to death by Halliwell

A taxi driver has pleaded guilty to the murder of Sian O'Callaghan who went missing after visiting a nightclub in Swindon in March last year.

Christopher Halliwell, 48, of Ashbury Avenue, sexually assaulted the 22-year-old office worker and stabbed her in the head and neck.

He was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison.

A charge of murdering Becky Godden, 28, will lie on file as a detective did not follow arrest guidelines.

It can be reported for the first time that the second charge was withdrawn after a High Court judge ruled Det Supt Steve Fulcher breached Halliwell's rights by failing to caution him and denying him a solicitor in an attempt to force information out of him.

'Inappropriate contact'

During a series of one-to-one interviews over the course of three hours, Halliwell confessed to murdering Miss O'Callaghan and took Mr Fulcher to her body.

Image caption Halliwell killed Miss O'Callaghan in Savernake Forest

He then admitted he had killed another woman and showed the detective where Miss Godden was buried.

The judge said: "As soon as he began to talk about another offence it is clear that he should have been cautioned."

Wiltshire Police said Mr Fulcher has been suspended pending an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) into allegations of "inappropriate contact with the media".

IPCC Commissioner Naseem Malik said: "Now that the criminal process has concluded the IPCC can start its investigation into the police investigation into the tragic deaths of these two young women.

"The IPCC will also separately investigate allegations that Det Supt Steve Fulcher, from Wiltshire Police, spoke about the case to some media outlets on separate occasions contrary to force instructions, the force media strategy and policies."

He said an investigation into five complaints against the force - not relating to Mr Fulcher - had already been completed and three complaints were upheld.

Mr Malik said the force had agreed to apologise to the complainant and review its family liaison policy.

'Raw pain'

Halliwell was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court to life in prison with a minimum term of 25 years for the murder of Miss O'Callaghan.

She had left the Suju nightclub at 02:53 GMT on 19 March for the short journey home.

Her body was found days later near the Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire.

Image caption Becky Godden's family vowed to keep up the "fight for justice"

The court heard Halliwell had been cruising around Swindon that night deliberately looking for a victim.

He had switched off the radio inside his vehicle which allowed colleagues at his taxi company to know where he was.

After leaving the nightclub, Miss O'Callaghan walked past the Goddard Arms on High Street in the Old Town area and got into Halliwell's taxi.

He drove his victim to Savernake Forest, near Marlborough in Wiltshire, where he killed her.

Using CCTV, police identified Halliwell through the number plate on his car and he was put under surveillance.

He made four visits to where Miss O'Callaghan's body was hidden in the 24 hours after her abduction.

By the early hours of 21 March Halliwell had moved the body from Savernake Forest to the spot where it was later found.

'Great dignity'

He then attempted to cover his tracks by cleaning his car and burning his seat covers.

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Media captionSian's mother Elaine O'Callaghan: ''I want her to be remembered as the incredible person that she was''

Halliwell was also captured on CCTV at a petrol station with posters about Miss O'Callaghan's disappearance in the rear windows of his taxi.

When Miss O'Callaghan's body was discovered five days after she went missing, her father Mick spoke of the family's "raw and overwhelming" pain.

Miss O'Callaghan's family were in court to see Halliwell plead guilty.

A victim impact statement from her boyfriend Kevin Reape, which was read in court, said his heart had been "ripped out" and his life "destroyed".

Speaking outside the court, Mr O'Callaghan said he wanted to thank Det Supt Fulcher for finding his daughter's body so soon.

'No understanding'

"Our thoughts go to Becky's family and hope their conclusion comes as it has for us," he said.

Det Ch Supt Kier Pritchard, of Wiltshire Police, said: "Sian's family and loved ones have shown great dignity throughout the court process.

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Media captionBecky Godden's mother, Karen Edward: ''The fight for justice for Becky has only just begun''

"I hope this conviction will in someway help the family move forward and onward with their lives."

Karen Edwards, Becky Godden's mother, said: "After a very complicated and painful journey over the last 18 months, Sian's family have today had the justice for the murder of their beautiful daughter.

"However our family's fight for justice for Becky has only just begun.

"Even though Becky has been found, after all this time we still have no full understanding of how she met her death.

"Wiltshire Police will be continuing the ongoing investigation into my daughter Becky's murder.

"As you can imagine this has been a very dreadful time for all our family and I would like to thank everyone for their continuing support in striving for justice for Becky."

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