Christopher Halliwell: Wiltshire Police apologise for failings in Becky Godden murder inquiry

“Significant opportunities” were missed by Wiltshire Police to bring killer Christopher Halliwell to justice sooner for a Swindon woman’s murder, a damning report has found.

The inquiry into Becky Godden’s murder was “poorly progressed and supervised” and key evidence was not forensically examined, according to the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s investigation.

Wiltshire Police’s now Chief Constable Kier Pritchard received management action for his handling of the case after the watchdog’s investigation concluded he had a case to answer for misconduct.

Wiltshire Police and Mr Pritchard said they have apologised to Ms Godden’s family.

20-year-old Ms Godden was strangled by Halliwell in 2003 and her body was buried in a field in Gloucestershire.

Halliwell was being questioned about the murder of Sian O’Callaghan in 2011 when he admitted murdering Ms Godden.

But a judge ruled that his confession was inadmissible as evidence because Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher had failed to caution Halliwell and had denied him access to a solicitor.

Halliwell was only brought to justice for Ms Godden’s murder in 2016 when a different judge ruled the confession was admissible.

As Detective Chief Superintendent at the time, Mr Pritchard had overall responsibility for serious and major crime investigations.

There were allegations that Mr Pritchard did not ensure a sufficiently thorough murder inquiry or that case reviews were conducted.  

The investigation also found that reasonable lines of enquiry were not pursued and key evidence was not forensically examined.

For example, a soil sample from a spade which was seized on his arrest in 2011 matched a rare soil in the field where Ms Godden was found but it was not forensically examined until 2014.

 

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