Becky Godden murder detective 'should face disciplinary charges'

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Media captionMiss Godden's parents have differing views about whether Det Supt Steve Fulcher should face disciplinary charges

A detective should face disciplinary charges over the Becky Godden murder case, the police watchdog said.

It follows a judge's ruling that Det Supt Steve Fulcher, from Wiltshire Police, ignored arrest guidelines which means no-one has been able to be prosecuted over her murder.

Christopher Halliwell led him to Miss Godden's buried body after admitting Sian O'Callaghan's murder in 2011.

An IPCC investigation found a case to answer for gross misconduct.

If the charges are proven, he could be sacked.

Before Miss O'Callaghan's murder trial, a judge ruled police ignored arrest guidelines by taking Halliwell, 49, to a local beauty spot, Barbury Castle, rather than to a police station to be read his rights.

Mrs Justice Cox said Det Supt Fulcher's decision to ignore guidelines in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) were "significant and substantial".

'Exact spot'

She added the move was intended to create "circumstances deliberately designed to persuade the defendant to speak".

Former taxi driver Halliwell has never stood trial for the murder of Becky Godden, who was last seen alive by a police officer in Swindon in December 2002.

Image caption Christopher Halliwell led police to Becky Godden's body

Miss Godden's parents have conflicting views about Det Supt Fulcher's decision not to follow the guidelines.

Her mother Karen Edwards said she sympathised with the detective.

She said: "I think he should be given a medal for what he's done - not go through all the traumas he's had.

"In my eyes, it seems to be if you're a criminal you're all right. For the general public - you get trodden on.

"And I'm not prepared to be trodden on and I won't let Steve Fulcher be trodden on."

However, Miss Godden's father John Godden said that if Mr Fulcher had done "an honest job, it would never have come to this".

Mr Godden added: "It's just shocking to go through 50 pages of mistakes - it's just shocking."

In October last year, Halliwell pleaded guilty to murdering 22-year-old Sian O'Callaghan. He was jailed for life with a minimum term of 25 years.

Det Supt Fulcher said at the time he had made the decision to not take Halliwell to a police station in a bid to "appeal to the killer's conscience".

He said last year: "He and I had another conversation together where he indicated that there was another body.

"He took me to a field at a crossroads.

"We were able to cross the wall of the field and he was able to pace out an exact spot where he said he had buried a young girl."

Three separate matters were investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The first followed a complaint from Miss Godden's father that Mr Fulcher's actions led to the charge against Halliwell for the unlawful killing of his daughter being dropped.

Contact with media

The second and third complaints concerned Mr Fulcher's release of information to the media and his contact with journalists in connection with the investigation, codenamed Operation Mayan.

IPCC deputy chairman Rachel Cerfontyne said: "This is a difficult time for all concerned with this case and especially the families and friends of Sian and Becky, especially after all they have already had to endure.

"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 Codes had been followed."

She added that Mr Fulcher, despite no longer having responsibility for Operation Mayan and "against express orders" went ahead with meetings about the case with BBC and ITV journalists.

Ms Cerfontyne said: "This behaviour is even more extraordinary when set in the context that the trial judge had already considered whether force press conferences given by Det Supt Fulcher were prejudicial to the case against Halliwell."

A Wiltshire Police spokesman 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 Det Supt Fulcher throughout this ongoing process.

"It would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this stage."

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