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Swindon MP calls for review of police guidelines following Halliwell case
SWINDON South MP Robert Buckland has called for a review of police guidelines after murderer Christopher Halliwell escaped justice for a second killing.
Taxi driver Halliwell, 48, confessed to murdering Sian O'Callaghan and missing prostitute Becky Godden-Edwards and even led officers to their bodies.
But a senior officer's failure to follow the rules meant the murder charge in Becky's case had to be dropped.
A High Court judge ruled the admissions father-of-three Halliwell made during a three-hour period on the day of his arrest were inadmissible because Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher breached guidelines governing the interviewing of suspects.
The detective, who was leading the hunt for Sian, failed to caution Halliwell and denied him a solicitor.
The ruling by Mrs Justice Cox meant that Wiltshire Police had no other evidence against Halliwell to link him to the Miss Godden's murder and the charge was withdrawn.
Halliwell, of Asbury Avenue, Nythe, was jailed for life last week after pleading guilty at Bristol Crown Court to Miss O'Callaghan's murder.
Miss O'Callaghan, 22, disappeared after leaving Swindon's Suju nightclub in the early hours of March 19 last year after a night out with friends.
Police believe Halliwell, who did not know her, took the young woman to the Savernake Forest where he murdered her.
Mr Buckland, an experienced criminal barrister and part-time judge, called for the Police and Criminal Evidence Act guidelines to be re-examined in the wake of the case.
He also said he could 'entirely understand' why Mr Fulcher may have felt it necessary to act the way he did.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Buckland said the errors over the Pace Act meant 'the family of Becky Godden-Edwards, whose body was discovered by police officers during the search for Sian O'Callaghan, have not received justice, have not received any degree of closure and are facing that awful reality day by day'.
"I'm not going to comment on the conduct of the individual officer, he is a senior officer, there is an Independent Police Complaints Commission inquiry into his conduct," he said.
"But putting myself into his shoes for a moment, putting aside my legal hat having been a criminal barrister for 20 years, I can entirely understand that in the heat of the moment, when it was still thought that Sian O'Callaghan may still be alive, that that officer thought he was acting in the best interests of the safety of Sian and in the interests of finding out more from Halliwell."
The 'grim experience' of the case suggested it would be 'timely' to re-examine Code C of Pace which governs the detention and questioning of suspects.
Mr Buckland said: "The codes of practice are not tablets of stone, they are regularly updated in the light of experience and I believe this particularly serious case, with serious consequences not only for the family of Becky Godden but for the wider community who were so concerned and so traumatised by what happened, it is now time that we had another look."
He praised the 'dignity' of Miss Godden-Edwards's family and added: "I pledge my support to them to do whatever it takes to make sure that they can find justice for the loss and the murder of their daughter."