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A Confession: Hunt for Swindon minicab murderer turned into TV drama

30 Aug 2019

 

In 2011, Sian O’Callaghan went missing after a night out in Swindon, tragically she was found dead a few days later. Private hire driver Christopher Halliwell was charged with her murder and subsequently convicted.

 

A new ITV drama, ‘A Confession’, is to hit the screens on 2 September, starring Martin Freeman, Imelda Staunton and Joe Absolom, telling the story of the investigation and Halliwell's capture and conviction.

Scriptwriter, Jeff Pope, said: “I found this is a fascinating story to tell on a number of levels. On one hand it is a brilliant piece of detective work, but in order to find both girls Fulcher felt he had to deny Halliwell his rights as a suspect. It brings into question how we want our police to behave when someone goes missing. Should Fulcher have been praised as a courageous officer fighting for the life of a girl, or lose his career for riding rough shod over the law?”

 

Investigating officer DS Steve Fulcher, played by Martin Freeman, is the focus of the story, describing how he went to extraordinary lengths to catch Halliwell, which included Fulcher himself breaking the law to capture the killer. 

 

The drama focuses on Sian O'Callaghan, who disappeared on 19 March 2011, after leaving Suju nightclub in Swindon at around 2.50am. Sian lived just over half a mile from the club with her boyfriend, Kevin Reape. 

 

Reape contacted police at around 9.45am  after Sian failed to return home. Reape had sent O'Callaghan a text message at 3.24am. Analysis of the text message showed that Sian's mobile phone was 12 miles away in the Savernake Forest area.

 

A public appeal was launched by police, and they began searching Savernake Forest. Around 400 members of the public also joined the police in their search of the forest. 

 

A few days later, Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher of Wiltshire Police stated that the investigation was moving at a rapid pace and asked members of the public to stand down from searches.

Police then made an appeal for witnesses of a green Toyota Avensis with cab markings, which had been seen between Swindon and Savernake Forest shortly after O'Callaghan's disappearance.

 

On 24 March, police arrested 47-year-old private hire driver and former burglar Christopher Halliwell on suspicion of kidnapping. Tragically Sian O' Callaghan's body was found in a shallow grave near Uffington, Oxfordshire later that day. Halliwell was subsequently charged with murder.

On 19 October 2012, Halliwell appeared at Bristol Crown Court and pleaded guilty to her murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 25 years. 


It later emerged that a second murder charge against Halliwell had been dropped as a result of a police error.

 

Becky Godden-Edwards had been reported missing in 2007. She was found after Halliwell's arrest, he had led police to the body. 

 

However, Judge Mrs Justice Cox ruled that Halliwell's confessions to killing both women were inadmissible as evidence, due to Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher breaching procedural guidelines.
 

Eventually, in March 2016, Christopher Halliwell was charged with the murder of Becky Godden-Edwards. He was found guilty of the murder at Bristol Crown Court and sentenced to life imprisonment with a whole life order for the murder.

 

Detectives believe that Halliwell, who had an obsession with Moors murderer Myra Hindley, may be linked to a number of other murders.

 

Image Source: Wiltshere999s

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