On Monday 20 January Wiltshire Police will start a week conduct hearing on the way Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher carried out his duties when investigating the death of Sian O’Callaghan.
A panel, made up of independent members, is tasked with deciding whether or not Detective Superintendent Fulcher committed gross misconduct in relation to the case of Sian O’Callaghan which led to the discovery of the body of Becky Godden-Edwards (also known as Rebecca Godden).
The panel was established after the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found that Detective Superintendent Fulcher had a case to answer for gross misconduct relating to three alleged breaches to the Standards of Professional Behaviour, as outlined by the Police Conduct Regulations 2008.
The hearing is expected to conclude on Friday 24 January when a decision is likely to be made.
A Wiltshire Police spokesperson stated that it would not be appropriate to make any comment until the hearing has concluded.
The media have been asked not to attempt to attend the hearing at Wiltshire Police headquarters in Devizes. A statement will be made after the panel hearing is concluded.
Karen Edwards, mother of Becky Godden-Edwards who disappeared in early 2003, and whose remains were found in a field north of Swindon in 2011, is seeking 100,000 signatures on a petition to trigger a parliamentary debate on changes to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984.
Swindon taxi driver Christopher Halliwell was convicted on 19 October 2012 to serve a minimum of 25 years for the murder of Sian O’Callaghan. Halliwell took the police to the bodies of both Sian and then Becky who had been missing for nine years
However Halliwell’s confession to Becky’s murder during the search for Sian’s body was ruled inadmissible in court because senior investigating police officer Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher had not taken Halliwell to Swindon police station to be interviewed with a lawyer present as required by PACE before Halliwell had taken the police to the place where he buried Becky’s in a remote Gloucestershire field.
Karen said: “Steve Fulcher had built up a rapport with Halliwell. He secured a confession to Sian’s murder under the conditions of an urgent interview without a lawyer present. But when Halliwell proceeded to tell Mr Fulcher about the whereabouts of Becky’s body he did it without being formally cautioned, meaning that the confession was thrown out by the judge.”
Defending DS Fulcher actions, Karen said: “If he hadn’t done what he did I would never have got Becky back to give her a proper resting place instead of being in a lonely field.
“I tell everybody exactly what I’ve said to the justice minister Damian Green, ‘what would you have done in Steve Fulcher’s position?’ Should he have followed the letter of the law which is over 30 years ago and inflexible, as far as I’m concerned? Or should he have acted as he did, to locate a body of a missing person and give a family answers?
“If Steve Fulcher hadn’t made that call, Becky would not have been found, I would not know where my child was, I would still be hanging on every tiny bit of hope that Becky would one day return.
“Before Steve found Becky I was in a living hell; it’s been hell for him since he was suspended. I got my daughter back, but I’ll will feel very guilty if DS Fulcher loses his job.
“Where are our human rights? The law needs to be better balanced to protect the human rights of the victim and their family, not just that of the perpetrator.
“The conduct panel has to look at these issues as a whole, not just whether DS Fulcher did not follow the letter of the law as it stands.”
Karen has collected 30,000 physical names on a petition and believes the total could be 60,000 with outstanding petition and online names taken into account.
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland, left, has raised Becky’s case in Parliament on two occasions and arranged for Karen to discuss the case with the justice minister. Karen added: “Damian Green acknowledged that PACE should be reformed. I very much hope the issues that come out in the examination of the way Steve Fulcher’s carried out his duties – correctly in my view – will speed up this up.”
Read Robert’s explanation why PACE should be reformed
Images top and bottom by Richard Wintle of Calyx