Murder police find buried clothes

Halstead Gazette: Police are investigating whether buried clothing belonged Becky Godden Police are investigating whether buried clothing belonged Becky Godden

Detectives searching remote countryside as part of their investigation into convicted murderer Christopher Halliwell have found women's clothing buried in woodland.

The 50-year-old taxi driver is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to murdering Swindon office worker Sian O'Callaghan in 2011.

The father-of-three also admitted to police killing Becky Godden, who had disappeared from the Wiltshire town a decade earlier, but that confession was ruled inadmissible by a judge because a top detective had breached his rights.

Wiltshire Police have not ruled out that more women may have fallen victim to Halliwell and have continued to investigate the murder of Miss Godden, who had drifted into drugs and prostitution - never giving up hope of bringing her killer to justice.

Officers found her remains in a field in Eastleach, near Cirencester, Gloucestershire in March 2011 having been led their by Halliwell.

Last month they revealed they had found a bone at the Cotswold beauty spot, which belonged to Miss Godden.

And a week ago they recovered the pair of brown New Look boots that 22-year-old Miss O'Callaghan was wearing when she was last seen alive leaving Suju's nightclub in Swindon three years ago.

The boots were found floating in a pond two miles from the village of Ramsbury, near Marlborough, Wiltshire. Also found in the pond was a shotgun.

Since then extensive searches of the Hill Drop Lane area have been carried, including the use of a specialist dive team from Avon and Somerset and cadaver dogs from South Wales.

Officers have now begun the task of draining and sieving thousands of litres of water from the 8ft deep pond to see what might be hidden at the bottom under several inches of silt.

Today Wiltshire Police revealed they had located up to 60 pieces of women's clothing buried under two inches of soil in thick woodland about 100 yards from the pond. In addition they have found a chunky knit cardigan close to the water.

Detective Chief Inspector Sean Memory, who is leading the investigation into the death of Miss O'Callaghan and Miss Godden, said he was confident the clothing found in the woodland did not belong to Miss O'Callaghan.

He said he did not know how long the clothing had been hidden but had been there for "some time".

"Someone has made some effort to hide it. There are in excess of 60 items of material, such as a sleeve, a zip or a hood, so it is difficult to say exactly how many items of clothing there are," Mr Memory said.

"There may be a really innocent explanation and someone may have fly-tipped it. Equally it is really unusual to find women's clothing buried.

"It may genuinely have no significance at all but I am open minded as to why someone would bury clothing.

"But to me it does seem a very strange location to be burying clothes, given what else we have found here.

"I am satisfied the clothing does not relate to Sian O'Callaghan but I don't know what Becky Godden was wearing when she disappeared or exactly when she disappeared."

The recovered clothing will be sent for forensic testing, Mr Memory said.

Police inquiries had led them to look at areas of water in Ramsbury where they found the boots.

They are still missing Miss O'Callaghan's handbag, mobile phone, items of jewellery, as well as the knife Halliwell used to kill her.

Wiltshire Police launched a high-profile inquiry when the office worker, who lived with her boyfriend Kevin Reape, failed to return home after a night out.

Under the leadership of Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, Halliwell quickly became a suspect in her abduction and murder.

But the repeated failure of Mr Fulcher to caution the father-of-three meant that a judge ruled the confessions to the killing of Miss O'Callaghan and Miss Godden were inadmissible in court because the officer had broken Police and Criminal Evidence Act (Pace) rules.

With no other evidence tying Halliwell to the murder of Miss Godden, the prosecution did not oppose an application by his defence team to dismiss the charge.

In January this year Mr Fulcher was found guilty by an independent panel of two counts of gross misconduct and handed a final written warning as punishment.

Last week it emerged he had resigned from Wiltshire Police but the force stressed the timing of that with this breakthrough in the inquiry was purely coincidental and not linked at all.

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