Wiltshire

Man found guilty of Becky Godden murder

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Media captionKaren Edwards, Becky's mother: "Today we've received the justice that has felt like an eternity coming for our beautiful little girl, Becky"

A convicted killer has been found guilty of murdering missing woman Becky Godden five years after initially escaping justice due to police blunders.

Christopher Halliwell, 52, initially admitted the double murder of Becky Godden and Sian O'Callaghan from Swindon in 2011.

But he evaded justice for killing Miss Godden until now due to a police error.

Miss Godden's mother thanked police "for bringing my little girl home".

A jury at Bristol Crown Court took less than three hours to find him guilty.

How Becky's killer was lost and caught

Live updates on the guilty verdict

Key dates in the investigation

The ex-taxi driver is currently serving life after stabbing and strangling Miss O'Callaghan, 22 in 2011.

The case came to court after Wiltshire Police unearthed new evidence in the case which centred on soil on a shovel found at Halliwell's home, witness accounts and Halliwell's wounds when he visited a GP two days after Miss Godden disappeared.

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Media captionThe five-year delay for justice explained

Halliwell, formerly of Ashbury Avenue, Swindon, confessed to her murder and described himself as "sick" to Det Supt Steve Fulcher, of Wiltshire Police, while under arrest for kidnapping Miss O'Callaghan.

He made the admission after leading officers to Miss O'Callaghan's grave near the White Horse in Uffington, Oxfordshire, where he took Mr Fulcher aside and told him there was "another one", meaning a body.

The body of Miss Godden, also known as Miss Godden-Edwards was found in Oxo Bottom field in Eastleach, Gloucestershire, in March 2011.

But because Det Supt Fulcher pressed Halliwell for details without cautioning him or allowing him access to a solicitor, the case was ruled inadmissible by a High Court judge.

Image caption Det Insp Steve Fulcher of Wiltshire Police faced a misconduct inquiry over his methods and later resigned from the force

As the verdict was read out, there were cheers in the public gallery.

Miss Godden's mother, Karen Edwards, was in tears. Her father, John Godden, had his head in his hands, weeping.

Halliwell, who is due to be sentenced on Friday, looked over at her family and smiled as he was taken down to the cells.

Outside the court, Ms Edwards personally thanked Mr Fulcher for his work on the case.

Fighting back tears, she said: "I would like to thank him from the bottom of my heart for bringing my little girl home.

"I will always respect him and will be indebted to him for making that moral decision as a police officer.

"He should never have suffered the terrible consequences, the loss of his reputation and career."

She also paid tribute to Miss O'Callaghan's family for having to relive the details of their daughter's murder all over again.

'Untold suffering'

Ian Harris, Head of the Complex Casework Unit for the Crown Prosecution Service Wessex, said: "After Christopher Halliwell had led Wiltshire Police to the body of Sian O'Callaghan, he also confessed to the murder of Rebecca Godden, who had been missing since January 2003.

"That was in 2011. Since then, our focus has been to get justice for Becky and her family as well.

"Despite all the evidence, including his own confession, Mr Halliwell continued to fight the case.

"In the process, he has put Becky's family through untold suffering on top of the terrible pain he has caused them by murdering Becky."

He said he hoped the verdict would give them some comfort.

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