Wiltshire police chief hits back over Halliwell case criticism

Mike Veale
Image caption Chief Constable Mike Veale made the comments in his monthly police blog

A police boss has defended his force after it took "unfair criticism" over an inquiry into a woman's murder.

Wiltshire Chief Constable Mike Veale said he wanted "to put the record straight" on the case of Christopher Halliwell who was given a rare whole life sentence for killing Becky Godden.

Mr Veale said the criticism was based on "misunderstanding, misleading information and factual inaccuracies".

In his latest blog, Mr Veale "thought long and hard" before he responded.

Image copyright Wiltshire Police
Image caption Former Swindon taxi driver Christopher Halliwell was given a whole life sentence for Becky Godden's murder
Image caption Becky Godden (l) and Sian O'Callaghan (r) were murdered by Halliwell

Halliwell, a former taxi driver, from Swindon, was already serving a prison sentence for the 2011 murder of Sian O'Callaghan, but was last month given a whole life term for the murder of Becky Godden - five years after he confessed to her murder.

Police irregularities meant Halliwell could not originally be charged with the murder, but a new case was brought when police found new evidence that led to his conviction.

'Media frenzy'

In 2011, ex-detective Steve Fulcher failed to caution Halliwell when he originally confessed to Becky's killing, which meant any prosecution case could not go ahead.

Mr Fulcher was later found guilty of two counts of gross misconduct and resigned from the force in 2014.

Ms Godden's mother, Karen Edwards, has praised Mr Fulcher for his actions but he has been repeatedly criticised by her father John Godden.

In his blog, Mr Veale said: "As a result of the obvious emotions and complexities of this case the public criticism and unjustified challenge of Wiltshire Police was entirely predicted and expected."

He said the case has had "raised a number of issues, including the legislation relating to interviews" of suspects.

However, he said they wanted to avoid a "media frenzy" which could in turn lead to the families with missing or murdered loved ones being "re-traumatised".

'No links uncovered'

Mr Veale also raised the issue of press speculation over other women "who may or may not have been a victim of Halliwell".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 last week, Mr Fulcher said Halliwell had told him "police want to interview me about eight murders".

But Mr Veale wrote: "This speculation is not helpful and is very distressing to the families involved.

"At this time Wiltshire Police has not uncovered any links between Halliwell and any other murders across the country."

Mr Veale ended the blog with a message to anyone with information in the "ongoing inquiry" to share it with the force.

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