A Confession: as told by ITV News | ITV News

A Confession: as told by ITV News | ITV News


This is the story of how a detective
persuaded a serial killer to confess. Do the right thing,
and tell me where Sian is. It’s a television drama now,
household names playing the lead roles. You got a car? But it’s a true story. This is right out of the pages of a
TV or film drama, and it wasn’t – it was what actually transpired
between these two men. A 47-year old man from Swindon
is in custody having been arrested for kidnap
and two murders. Why did an experienced detective
– Steve Fulcher – break rules to obtain the admission? It’s one of the most astonishing
stories that I’ve ever come across. How had a serial killer been able
to live and prey in suburbia? He’s a psychopath, basically. It’s about a victim’s mother and her fight for the redemption of a
disgraced police officer. To the day I die will always
be grateful for what he did. This is the story of how a killer
took the lives of two women, left two families in grief,
left a town in anger… [SHOUTING AND SCREAMING] ..and nearly got away
with murder. My name is Robert Murphy. I covered this story
for ITV News. I was in the press conferences and court
hearings, I interviewed the families too. For this programme I’ve spoken with
the writer and actors who were so inspired by a detective’s real-life gamble
that they turned it into a drama. Felt to me that he was just
trying to do the right thing to find a young woman who’s been missing. In March 2011, Sian O’Callaghan,
a 22-year-old office worker, disappeared. She was always smiling,
always smiling from a very young age. A very happy person,
yeah, radiant. Can’t think that she was hardly ever down
– if she was down it would have to be something serious – but
generally always upbeat. Sian had been out with friends
to the Suju nightclub in Swindon. Security footage showed
her leaving alone. She wasn’t seen alive again. I just want to say how very
worried we are about Sian. Her boyfriend, Kevin Reape,
contacted police and soon he was making a public appeal. She’s been missing now for over two days
and it’s not like her not to come home. Wiltshire Police brought in
a senior investigator – Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher. OK, concentrate between
2:52 and 3:24. He’s played in the ITV drama
‘A Confession’ by Martin Freeman. He struck me as very professional,
very high standards, and, yeah – just not a pushover
in any way I think, you know. I don’t think he would ever go,
‘yeah, that’ll be fine,’ do you know what I mean,
‘that’ll do.’ I think he wants – I don’t know,
he struck me as someone who’s like, ‘you’re going to do this…
this is going to be done the right way.’ Steve Fulcher’s team found
CCTV footage of Sian walking home. What they saw next was chilling. They saw a car pull up,
its headlights distorting what happens. It stops for a moment,
then drives away. Was Sian a willing passenger? Or was this an abduction? And her phone was now connecting
with this mast, ten miles south of Swindon near
Savernake Forest – nowhere near her home. Right, I want the dogs out,
I want a search initially concentrated on the entrances and exits
to Savernake Forest. I want the route from Suju’s all the
way to Sian’s address searched again, concentrating on ditches, alleyways,
anywhere she may have crawled if she was involved
in a traffic accident. I want these posters put up. Posters for publicity but the lead
detective wanted more than headlines. He needed evidence
in the hunt for Sian. It couldn’t be harder – a 6-and-a-half-mile
radius of the Savernake Forest. Now clearly that in any terms is a
difficult search issue and I haven’t got explicit locations that I can
pinpoint a search parameter around. Bit further please. Searches began of this
sprawling, historic woodland. Down to the next bridleway. By now, three days after Sian’s
disappearance, a volunteer army of hundreds turned up, desperate to find
the missing woman. She’s the nicest person you’ll ever meet
– she has a big impact on everybody. – Everybody she meets.
– Even if you met her for five minutes. She’s got such a widespread
group of friends. When he was looking for Sian he –
as time goes on, obviously, and it becomes less likely that
that person is going to be alive, you know. But until – you know I think
his argument was: ‘if there’s a 5% chance someone is alive,
I’m gonna – we have to work on the basis that
they’re alive until we know they’re dead.’ Back in Swindon, a brilliant piece
of policing by one of Fulcher’s team. An officer looked at patrol vehicles’
number plate recognition cameras from the time Sian vanished… and found this shot:
a car matching that which picked up Sian. Now they had a number plate,
they had a taxi firm, and soon they would have
a prime suspect: Christopher Halliwell. Halliwell has got some
previous convictions: mostly low-level,
last one back in ‘86 for burglary. String of aliases,
no history of violence or sex offences. We have checked out the home address –
a car is on the drive but the surveillance team
have said that it’s going to be very very difficult to put a lump on it
without setting off an alarm, so it could be that we’re going to
have to do a full surveillance old-style. Detectives approached the prime suspect,
trying to find out more. Mr. Halliwell? Yes. Wiltshire Police.
We’re here to take a DNA sample. Your cab company told you about this? Oh yeah. We’re doing it with all the
cab drivers in the area. Yeah, I understand, yeah. What time did you finish
on Saturday morning? Uh, about 1ish. I was home by 1:30, I know that. Halliwell was lying. Detectives would soon find these images of
him cruising the streets later than 1.30 – in the moments
before Sian vanished. Surveillance teams began following
Halliwell as he went into the night: fuelling up, then driving away. His car had “Find Sian” posters
on the rear window. They followed him into the countryside
as he threw away and burnt seat covers. Then he disappeared. We lost him. Are you kidding? I’m sorry but it’s so remote
out here we had to hang back or he would have
spotted us a mile off. How long ago did you lose him? About half an hour ago,
near Barbury Castle. The next morning, police arrested
Halliwell at a supermarket. He’d bought tablets –
they feared he’d take his own life, and the route to Sian would disappear. Halliwell should have been
taken to a police station but Steve Fulcher had another idea. It would be a gamble
– unprecedented even – and it meant tearing up the rulebook. As the Police and Criminal
Evidence Act dictates the minute he’s arrested
and given his rights, he’s brought back to a police station
where he will inevitably say ‘no comment.’ At that point any chance that he
had of recovering Sian alive goes, so he decided,
‘I think that Sian’s right to life trumps Halliwell’s rights as a suspect.’ That was Steve Fulcher’s ethos. And so, he says – he said, ‘I don’t want Christopher Halliwell
to say nothing. I don’t want him to hide behind a lawyer
and say ‘no comment,’ I want him to tell me where Sian is.’ And something happened,
something passed between him and Halliwell. Steve Fulcher asked one of his
colleagues to come with him, write down everything that was said
between him and Christopher Halliwell, and it reads like a TV drama,
you know what I mean? Steve Fulcher ordered that Chris Halliwell
be brought here, to Barbury Castle – it’s an Iron Age hillfort
in the Wiltshire countryside. He wanted to speak, he told his junior
officers, man to man with the suspect. Now he should
– according to the rule book – have read Halliwell his rights
one more time but he said that he thought that
Sian could still be alive and if there was a present threat to life, then he would use these
so-called emergency powers. This is your last chance. Do the right thing,
and tell me where Sian is. You got a car? Chris Halliwell directed the police teams across the border into
Oxfordshire, to here – and he admitted that
yes he had killed Sian, and he’d left her body in a
copse of trees down there. Later that day,
Sian would be found. Now according to the arrest guidelines, Chris Halliwell should have been
cautioned one more time by the police: there was no more need
for emergency powers, there was no more imminent threat
to life because Sian was dead. But that caution didn’t happen. What followed was this: Steve Fulcher and Chris Halliwell
sat at a bench. Steve Fulcher would later say that
Halliwell seemed to just open up – they shared a cigarette even – and it was here that Chris Halliwell
turned to Steve Fulcher and said: Do you want another one? Another one? Mm. So was Christopher Halliwell
really confessing to a second victim? The killer directed
Steve Fulcher and his team on a long route through
the twisting countryside. Eventually he ordered
the detectives to stop. And he had a harrowing revelation
which he had kept secret for years. Chris Halliwell led police
to this field in Gloucestershire. He found his own personal landmark which
was this dip in the old dry stone wall and he climbed inside the field. He paced inside… 7, 8, 9, 10. She’s down there. He said that years before he’d
murdered a girl and buried her here – she’d lain here ever since. He said he didn’t know her name, her age,
or even what year he killed her. But crucially, Steve Fulcher again should
have cautioned Halliwell, and he didn’t – and that was wrong
in the eyes of the law. To have someone confess
– or to have someone volunteer – another body that they’re responsible
for making is extraordinary, you know. And I think for Steve Fulcher it was an
absolutely mind-blowing moment of, like, ‘oh, are you talking about
another girl here?’ Halliwell was brought back to Swindon, he got a lawyer – for the first time –
who advised him to say ‘no comment.’ Steve Fulcher told the media
what had happened. I – personally – was taken to
two locations by this individual: one, near Uffington,
where we discovered the body of a woman
who we believe is Sian, and also to another location
near Northleach, where I believe a second body may be. Back at the field in Gloucestershire,
excavators went to work. It didn’t take long. Since we spoke last officers have
began work to recover this second body, and this morning officers have found
remains, which we believe to be human, at the location at Eastleach. So who was
this girl in the field? We’re having to use a technique
called Low Copy Number in terms of trying to produce
a full DNA profile. Now, this takes time –
I was hoping for the result today, but I haven’t had that result back. Then came the breakthrough. A missing woman
– whose body was discovered by police investigating the
murder of Sian O’Callaghan – has been identified. We were able to provide
a positive hit from the DNA database and identify that body
as that of Rebecca Godden, known to her family and friends as Becky. It was Becky’s birthday yesterday –
she would have been 29 years old. Becky was a very
beautiful, intelligent girl. She was my daughter. She was loved by all her family. As a teenager she got involved with
people who introduced her to drugs. She left school and her life spiralled. She told me one day she loved me so much she couldn’t keep
putting me through this hell, and she was leaving, and wouldn’t
come back to me until she was clean. I never saw her again. Her mother, and her father and stepfather,
never really knew whether she’d just gone off again
and had decided never to come back. They – I think Karen
in her heart of hearts was terrified of the thought
that she might be dead. Steve Fulcher had two victims, a suspect,
and the legal process began dramatically. [SHOUTING AND SCREAMING] This was Halliwell’s
first court appearance, which happened before
Becky was identified. Anger in Swindon boiled over. [SHOUTING AND SCREAMING] Then in court, a catastrophe
for police and prosecutors: a judge agreed with Halliwell
and his Barrister that his admission to being a double killer
could not be put before a jury. There was DNA linking Halliwell with Sian’s
killing: her blood on his seat covers. In 2012 he pleaded
guilty to her murder. But Becky’s charge was
– effectively – dropped. A taxi driver jailed for life for the
killing of a young nightclubber in Swindon has escaped charges
for a second murder. Christopher Halliwell admitted stabbing
to death 22-year-old Sian O’Callaghan in March last year, but despite leading
police to the body of a second victim he cannot be prosecuted for that crime
because legal rules were breached. And things got worse
for Steve Fulcher. John Godden – Becky’s father and the
former husband of Karen Edwards – made a complaint to the police watchdog about the officer who had
discovered his daughter. It becomes common practice don’t it,
when you’ve been in a job for 30 years, that’s the first thing you do:
read them their rights, get a solicitor. Soon as like he said, if he did…
you know, he mentioned another – you read them their rights again. Following John Godden’s complaint,
Steve Fulcher was found guilty of gross misconduct for
breaching arrest guidelines and for contact with two journalists. I was one of them. Now I have to tell you, Steve, that I am suspending you
from duty with immediate effect. It’s been brought to my attention
that you had an unauthorised meeting with a member of the press:
the ITV journalist Rob Murphy. Within a year he had resigned
from Wiltshire Police. A career which had once
seemed gilt-edged, now in tatters. Yes we believe in PACE – the Police
and Criminal Evidence Act – so… – as indeed does Fulcher.
So it’s an almost insoluble problem: it’s: what happens when
these two forces collide? What is right and what is wrong? And I understand why what happened
to Fulcher happened to him, and I understand why he lost his career. I’ve interviewed Karen Edwards – Steve
Fulcher’s most passionate supporter – a number of times. She was horrified at his fate. I – to the day I die – will always
be grateful for what he did. He made morally the right decision
– as a father, as a police officer – and he was just doing his job. And he has been punished
for just doing his job. Karen Edwards started a petition calling
for arrest guidelines to be changed. She took it to the
corridors of power. I’m hoping that it will achieve the
justice system to be a lot more balanced. In ‘A Confession’ Imelda Staunton
plays Karen Edwards – the woman who went from worried mum,
to grieving parent, to furious campaigner. She fought for Steve Fulcher and she fought
in his corner and you think, well, ‘hadn’t she enough on her plate
with her own grief? And her…’ But no, she was on the, you know, the
side of – in her mind – the side of right, and this man has been utterly penalised
for discovering this serial killer. Karen Edwards kept working away,
applying pressure, while for a year the inquiry
appeared to be going nowhere. Then a new lead officer took over,
Detective Superintendent Sean Memory. He got results immediately. I was looking at the Ramsbury area
in relation to water and ponds and we’ve ended up here and we’ve noticed what appeared to be
a boot in the water which we’ve recovered. What he had found – within hours –
was Halliwell’s deposition site. A remote pond where he’d
hidden boots belonging to Sian. But there was no
evidence here of Becky. So he ordered a search of
Halliwell’s old home in Swindon. And Sean Memory spoke
with the killer face-to-face. Halliwell appeared to
offer the detective a deal: Wiltshire Police declined. But they had other leads. This spade was found by Steve Fulcher’s
team in Halliwell’s shed in 2011. It was now analysed. It had the same unique soil profile
as the field where Becky was found, and new witnesses came forward. All of this meant that a new judge in 2016 ruled that Halliwell could be tried
– at last – for Becky’s murder. And Halliwell decided he would
represent himself in court. One witness would be the former
detective, Steve Fulcher. During the trial at Bristol Crown Court the tables were turned:
killer questioning police officer. As Fulcher finished giving evidence,
Halliwell shouted, “It’s been a pleasure ruining your career.” It took the jury just two hours
to decide Halliwell’s guilt. He was given the
full-life sentence he feared. He will never
enjoy freedom again. We have waited over five years
for this momentous day. It has been an extremely painful journey but today we’ve received the justice
– that has felt like an eternity coming – for our beautiful little girl Becky. Despite the efforts of Karen Edwards, there has been no change
to arrest guidelines – so far. Steve Fulcher is now
a security consultant in Africa – he says he’s unable
to find a job in the UK, although he has published his memoirs –
upon which ‘A Confession’ is partly based. But the story does not end there. Now there have always been suspicions that the convicted double murderer
Christopher Halliwell may have killed more than twice. Could there have been
more young female victims in the eight years between
his first and his last known attacks? To try to find out police have begun digging up the back garden of a house
in Swindon where Halliwell used to live. Were there other victims?
If so, who? For more than a week,
forensic teams investigated: digging up the garden,
ripping up the floors. But they found nothing. Detectives at the force where
Steve Fulcher used to work remain open-minded about
whether Halliwell killed again. The murderer left two families in grief, the inquiry left
a detective’s career in ruins. And – if he struck more than twice –
only Halliwell knows. Police, perhaps,
will only learn for sure if he gives
a final confession.

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