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Drug dealers buried woman's body in field, says murder accused cabby

Christopher Halliwell
Christopher Halliwell

A killer taxi driver accused of murdering a prostitute and leading detectives to her shallow grave has insisted he never knew her - instead claiming two drug dealers buried her body in a field, a court heard.

Christopher Halliwell, 52, said he had no reason to lie and maintained the two mystery men were responsible for concealing Becky Godden's body in a remote field after something "went wrong".

He told the jury at Bristol Crown Court that in March 2003 he had driven the two unnamed men in his taxi to Oxo Bottom Field in Eastleach, Gloucestershire, where he left them and returned an hour later.

The father of three, who is already serving a life sentence for murdering nightclubber Sian O'Callaghan in 2011, told the court: "I want to start by saying I am telling the truth. I have no reason to lie - getting life anyway and I have no real prospect of getting out and I deserve every day anyway.

"What happened between me and Sian - my actions were brutal. What I put Sian's family through was inhuman.

"Whether I get out or not is irrelevant; whether you the jury find me guilty or not guilty, doesn't matter.

"I come here to tell the truth."

Halliwell, who had led police to the locations of both Miss O'Callaghan and Miss Godden's bodies after being arrested on suspicion of kidnap, was giving evidence for the first time during his trial.

He explained he would regularly over a period of three years from 2001 drive two men around various addresses in Swindon late at night and he believed they were drug dealers.

"I never asked any questions - I didn't want to know. I am a taxi driver and I was turning a blind eye. That's their business. It may be morally wrong but it wasn't my place to judge someone," Halliwell said.

"After the second or third occasion - it went on for years - taking them around various addresses in Swindon and dropping them off at the station, they commented 'You never ask any questions'.

"I said 'It is none of my business and if we get stopped it is not my problem. I have no interest in what you are doing'.

"If they are going to pay me three or four times than the taxi fare - that's paying my bills, paying my mortgage ... for my family. I'd rather they were paying me than another driver."

Halliwell explained that in March 2003 he received a phone call from the men.

"They said something has gone wrong and they needed to get rid of something," he told the court.

"I was a taxi driver and knew the area outside of Swindon and they asked did I know of anywhere they could get rid of something for a while.

"I was under the impression it was temporary and they said as much and in a few weeks they would recover whatever they would get rid of and hiding. I took them to Eastleach.

"When I picked them up one of them opened the boot and they put a large sports bag in the boot.

"I didn't ask any questions. I assumed it was either drugs, money, possibly weapons."

Halliwell, dressed in a short open-necked striped blue and white shirt, gripped the sides of the witness box as he gave evidence.

He stood just metres away from Miss Godden's family, including her mother Karen Edwards and her husband Charlie. Miss O'Callaghan's family were also sat in the packed public gallery.

Halliwell paused at times to compose himself during his evidence and took a blue asthma inhaler which was placed on the witness box.

The defendant told the jury that when he returned to the field he could see in his car's headlights where the two men were standing - the same location he identified years later to police.

"I didn't know at the time they had buried Rebecca. I was under the impression it was drugs, money or weapons, I didn't know, I didn't ask," Halliwell insisted.

"The fact is they said it was temporary. They gave the indication that the reason they were getting rid of what they were getting rid of was that things were coming on top for them and for a while they had to hide whatever they were dealing in."

Halliwell said that after he dropped the two men back in Swindon they paid him between £600 and £700 in cash.

He told the jury that on the last occasion he had any contact with the men, the front seat passenger was on his own and "stoned" on drugs.

"I never made inquiries with him about what happened at Oxo Bottom Field but he volunteered the information that when they went out there they had buried a prostitute from Swindon," he said.

"I thought he was messing about. It was right up to March 26 or 27 2011, I always wondered if he was bulls***ting because I never asked any questions. I thought he was messing about. He said it like it was nothing. It didn't seem to bother him."

Halliwell, formerly of Ashbury Avenue, Swindon, Wiltshire, denies a single charge of murder.