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SIAN O'CALLAGHAN: Neighbours stunned at 47-year-old’s arrest
8:32am Friday 25th March 2011 in News
NEIGHBOURS of the prime suspect in the murder inquiry into the deaths of Sian O’Callaghan and another unnamed person reacted with shock yesterday.
Forensic investigators searched the family home of the 47-year-old, believed to be Chris Halliwell, who was arrested on suspicion of kidnap and double murder.
Police swooped and sealed off a house in Ashbury Avenue, Nythe, at around 1pm as part of the investigation into the initial disappearance of Sian O’Callaghan.
It followed a police appeal yesterday morning for information on a green Toyota Avensis with taxi markings, and the driver’s arrest.
Several uniformed officers guarded the cordoned-off house and driveway, upon which a large white tent stood to shield crime scene investigators analysing the spot where his car would usually be parked.
Retired Brian Jerome, 71, who has lived in the road for 46 years, said he knew Mr Halliwell as a neighbour and was stunned by the police activity in the usually quiet neighbourhood.
He said: “I’m absolutely shocked – he was a really smashing bloke. He used to put my dustbin out and took it back in when I was away.
“He has probably lived there about four or five years and as far as I know he’s always been driving a taxi.
“He was a hard-working man – he was always working on his car.
“The last time I saw him was the other day only through the window and he waved.
“He always used to say ‘hello Brian’.”
Another, who asked not to be named said: “I would have been happy for my daughter to get in his taxi and she is 20.
“No-one wants this happening on their doorstep.”
Meanwhile, officers searched a field section of the B4507, which runs west to east from Broadway, near Uffington, to Blowingstone Hill, near Kingston Lisle. The area was cordoned off and remained closed overnight.
It is thought that the body found here is that of the missing 22-year-old.
Police searched a wooded area to the side of the country road.
They erected an open-sided tent with a white roof at the roadside, and four crime scene investigation officers in white all-in-one suits worked in a taped-off zone.
The site is hidden away in a wooded area as the road goes into a small valley. In a field near the tent six more uniformed officers scoured the ground.
Chief Superintendent Steve Hedley arrived by car and confirmed the search was in connection with the investigation.
He refused to comment further on whether the second body had also been found at the site.