NewsCrime Desk

Murderer “confessed to killing prostitute before taking officers to second, headless body”

Christopher Halliwell
Christopher Halliwell

A murderer offered police "another one" before leading them to a remote field where he had buried a sex worker he killed years earlier, a court has heard.

Christopher Halliwell, 52, allegedly told a detective he was a "sick f*****" as he confessed to strangling missing sex worker Becky Godden, 20, more than a decade ago.

The taxi driver was at that point under arrest for kidnapping Sian O'Callaghan, who had disappeared after leaving a nightclub in Swindon, Wiltshire, in March 2011, Bristol Crown Court was told.

Miss O'Callaghan's semi-naked body was discovered in undergrowth in Uffington, Oxfordshire, while the remains of Miss Godden were found in Eastleach, Gloucestershire.

Jurors heard that, while in Uffington, Halliwell told Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, who was leading the investigation for Wiltshire Police, simply: "We need to have a chat."

Halliwell allegedly went on to tell him: "I am a sick f*****. Is it too late to get help?"

He is said to have informed Mr Fulcher that he would show him the "exact spot" where Miss Godden's body was buried in a shallow grave, adding: "I know you are not a psychiatrist but what the f***'s wrong? Normal people don't go round killing each other."

Rebecca Godden 

It is alleged that Halliwell confessed to taking Miss Godden from the streets of Swindon at some point between 2003 and 2005 and strangling her after having sex with her.

The court heard that he then directed officers to Oxo Bottom field in Eastleach, where the skeletal remains of Miss Godden - later identified by DNA - were discovered.

Halliwell, formerly of Ashbury Avenue, Swindon, denies murdering Miss Godden between January 1 2003 and March 30 2008.

Nicholas Haggan QC, prosecuting, told the jury of six men and six women that Halliwell was serving a life sentence with a minimum term of 25 years after admitting the murder of Miss O'Callaghan.

But he claimed there was "no doubt of any sort" that Halliwell was also responsible for the murder and burial of Miss Godden.

"Her naked body was buried in a clandestine grave in a field which might be described as in the middle of nowhere," he said.

"You might conclude that it was plain Rebecca was murdered.

"But secondly, this defendant, Christopher Halliwell, confessed to the police that between 2003 and 2005 - he couldn't be sure of the date - he had taken a girl from the streets of Swindon.

"He told the police he had sex with her and then he killed her by strangling her. He told the police he stripped the girl of her clothes and concealed her naked body.

"Not only that but the defendant took the police to the location. Had the defendant not told the police where he had buried that girl from the streets of Swindon, you might think that Rebecca's remains to this day would be in that field in the middle of nowhere."

The court heard that the "last reliable sighting" of Miss Godden was in Swindon town centre in January 2003, possibly January 3.

"After that nothing more was heard from her. She made no contact with her family; she made no contact with any of the government and other agencies and financial institutions," Mr Haggan said.

The court heard that she had started using Class A drugs and became a sex worker in her mid-teens operating in the Manchester Road area of Swindon.

Despite her lifestyle, Miss Godden - known as Becky or Rebecca to friends and family - kept in contact with her family, especially on Mother's Day and her birthday on April 4.

Karen Edwards last saw her daughter on December 16 2002, when she collected her following an appearance at Swindon Magistrates' Court and drove her to a friend's house in the town, the court heard.

A community beat officer recorded seeing Miss Godden on December 27 in 2002.

Rebecca Boast, a friend of Miss Godden, spent time with Becky outside a nightclub called Destiny And Desire in Swindon in early January 2003.

A taxi pulled up and Miss Godden approached it, returning to the car a short while later and arguing with the driver, Mr Haggan said.

"A short time later, Becky told her friends that she was leaving and she went back to the taxi," he told the jury.

"She got into the rear of the vehicle and the vehicle drove away. Rebecca Boast never saw her friend again, although she looked for Rebecca when she was out and about in Swindon town centre.

"Extensive inquiries by the police indicate that this probably was the last known reliable sighting of Becky."

The court heard that Miss Godden did not make contact with her family on Mother's Day in 2003, nor on her 21st birthday in April that year.

Halliwell, wearing a dark grey suit, white shirt and light blue tie, carried his own bundle of documents into the dock. During the trial he is defending himself.

Relatives of Miss Godden and Miss O'Callaghan sat in the public gallery.

Mrs Edwards, her partner, Charlie, and Miss Godden's father, John Godden, listened to proceedings.

Also present was Miss O'Callaghan's boyfriend, Kevin Reape, and her mother, Elaine Pickford.

Sian O'Callaghan

Retired High Court judge Sir John Griffith Williams told jurors they should not assume that Halliwell's conviction for murdering Miss O'Callaghan made him guilty of killing Miss Godden.

"The prosecution case against Mr Halliwell, which will be developed this afternoon, is that there are similarities between the circumstances of the killing of Sian O'Callaghan and the killing of Becky Godden," the judge said.

"The prosecution case is that these similarities are such that they prove the defendant was the killer of Rebecca or Becky Godden.

"That is one of the issues in the case and you will have to decide, on the evidence as you hear it, whether there are such similarities and whether that inference can be drawn from those similarities.

"What you must not do is assume or conclude from the fact that he has pleaded guilty to the murder of Sian O'Callaghan. That would be wholly wrong."

Mr Haggan said officers investigating Miss Godden's death quickly discovered that Halliwell used prostitutes.

"They found he had been a client of Becky's," Mr Haggan told the jury.

"A woman who at the material time was both a sex worker and a user of illicit drugs knew Becky quite well.

"We are looking back to 2003 or thereabouts and so, in fairness to her and her family, we propose to refer to that witness just as Miss X.

"Miss X and Rebecca used to work together in the Manchester Road area of Swindon."

Miss X was aware that Miss Godden had a regular client, who was a taxi driver, the jury heard.

"Miss X saw, we say, the defendant pick up Becky in his car on numerous occasions," Mr Haggan said.

"The defendant was a client too of Miss X on two occasions."

On the first occasion, Halliwell drove up to Miss X and asked where Miss Godden was, it is alleged.

The court heard that he asked her "for business" and they went to an industrial estate in Swindon, where he paid her for a sex act.

Some weeks later, Halliwell approached Miss X and they went to a flat near Swindon town centre, where he again paid for a sexual service, Mr Haggan said.

"On that occasion they discussed Becky," Mr Haggan added.

"The defendant said he didn't always have money and Becky didn't seem to understand this."

Miss X later identified Halliwell to police, the court heard.

Trevor Puffitt was propositioned by Miss Godden on the Magic Roundabout in Swindon in about 2000, the jury heard.

Three years later, he visited Eastleach to tend to his parents' graves and went to the Victoria Inn, a pub there.

While sitting in the beer garden, Mr Puffitt overheard an argument between a couple.

"The male was very aggressive towards the girl," Mr Haggan said.

"He shouted at her. He told her she was a 'f****** slag'. He threw a drink over her and pushed her about."

Mr Puffitt stood up and challenged the aggressive man, who walked off, before going to the woman.

"It was at that point he realised that the girl he was speaking to was the some girl who had propositioned him on the Magic Roundabout some three years or so earlier," Mr Haggan said.

"Time moved on and in 2011 Mr Puffitt became aware of the murder of Sian O'Callaghan.

"He saw images of the defendant and Sian in a local newspaper. He also saw an image of Becky in the newspaper.

"He then recognised the defendant and Becky as the couple who had been arguing in the Victoria Inn."

The court heard Kevin Yule, a friend of Halliwell, had recommended the Victoria Inn in Eastleach to him.

Mr Haggan told the jury that the Crown could not be certain of a date when Halliwell allegedly murdered Miss Godden.

He explained that Dr Nicholas Marquez-Grant, a forensic anthropologist, had been able to establish from examining Miss Godden's remains that she was aged between 22 and 25 when she died.

"There is some evidence that suggested Rebecca Godden may have been abducted and killed on January 3 2003," Mr Haggan said.

The court heard that at 5.25am on January 3 Halliwell logged a call with the RAC, reporting his Volvo S80 had run out of fuel on the A361 at Inglesham, near Lechlade-on-Thames.

"In the early hours of the morning on January 3 he had driven to a spot not a million miles away from Eastleach," the prosecutor said.

"You might want to ask yourself what Mr Halliwell was doing on the A361 at Inglesham in the early hours of the morning of January 3 2003."

Later that afternoon, Halliwell went to his GP, Dr Philip Mayes, complaining of a swollen right hand, which was sore.

The court heard that Dr Mayes suspected Halliwell had fractured his little finger and he splinted it to his ring finger for him.

He also noted on the doctors' practice electronic records that Halliwell had multiple scratches to his face and recorded what the defendant told him.

"Taxi driver assaulted last night by a man who took exception to the driver refusing to pick him up from the street, man started hitting the car, so a fight ensued," Mr Haggan said.

The court heard that Dr Mayes also noted that Halliwell appeared "emotionally distressed".

Mr Haggan alleged that Halliwell's taxi diary did not have him working between January 1 and January 4.

He also referred to records of 19 reports Halliwell had made to the police between January 2000 and November 2010 reporting such things as theft of money from his taxi.

The prosecutor said there was not a report about a fight with a man on January 3 2003 that resulted in Halliwell suffering a broken finger.