There have been significant developments since my last article at SwindonLink.com about the murder of Becky Godden-Edwards and the fight to change the law which has so far allowed her killer to escape justice, writes Robert Buckland, MP for South Swindon.
In October 2012, taxi driver Christopher Halliwell was jailed for life for the murder of Sian O’Callaghan, 22, who he had picked up from a Swindon nightclub. On the day he was caught, Halliwell also confessed to a second murder, that of Becky Godden-Edwards.
Halliwell led Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher to Becky’s remains in a field north of Swindon. However, Halliwell was not tried for Becky’s murder because DS Fulcher had not followed strict procedures laid down in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, otherwise known as PACE.
Investigations were launched into DS Fulcher’s actions, and it’s now been decided that although he had not followed the rules, he will be reinstated and can resume his police career.
Robert Buckland with Karen Edwards. Photo: Richard Wintle www.calyxpix.com
I believe this decision is correct given the exceptional circumstances of the case. It’s also been welcomed by Becky’s mother Karen Edwards, who thanks DS Fulcher for finding her daughter after nearly ten years.
Karen is still campaigning for justice – it’s a fight I fully support. Changes should be made to PACE so that investigating officers have more flexibility in the way they deal with suspects. Whilst any future change will not be able to affect this case, it is Mrs Edwards’ fervent wish that something positive emerges from this.
I am now chairman of the Conservative backbench Home Affairs Committee and a member of the party’s Home Affairs Policy Commission, which amongst other things is looking at ideas that promote the increased use of mobile technology to help the police with their work away from the police station.
If this technology had been available on the day Halliwell was arrested, the chain of events might have been different. Mrs Edwards continues to gather more signatures for her petition calling for a change to PACE and I continue to make the case for modernisation.
I am consulting with fellow lawyers about my proposals and continue to engage directly with Home Office ministers on this. There are calls for a parliamentary debate on the subject, and that is something I am also exploring.
It’s now nearly three years since Halliwell’s arrest, and the fight continues to give Karen, and Becky, the justice they deserve.
• Support Karen’s campaign on Facebook: Justice for Becky