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Detective Super ‘should face gross misconduct action’
Police watchdog says SIO should be called to answer for alleged breaches of PACE during a murder investigation.
Date – 10th September 2013
By – Cliff Caswell – Police Oracle 5 Comments
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has insisted that an SIO has a case to answer for gross misconduct amid allegations relating to an unusual murder investigation.
The watchdog said Wiltshire Detective Superintendent Stephen Fulcher should be disciplined for alleged breaches of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) in relation to Operation Mayan – a probe into the disappearance of 22-year-old Sian O’Callaghan in Swindon two years ago.
The IPCC also said he should face misconduct proceedings over his release of information to the media – which it said had been in direct breach of orders during the investigation.
During Op Mayan, Det Supt Fulcher interviewed suspect Chris Halliwell on a remote hillside at a local beauty spot where he believed Miss O’Callaghan may have been buried. Taxi driver Halliwell, who did not have a solicitor present, revealed the location of her remains before leading the detective to the body of a second woman, Becky Godden, who had disappeared some years previously.
Haliwell was later convicted of Miss O’Callaghan’s murder and jailed for life. But before the trial, a judge ruled that bringing the defendant to the beauty spot was “an irrefutable” breach of PACE guidelines. Details of the interview were deemed inadmissable, and the killer did not face proceedings over the death of Miss Godden.
Her father John Godden had formally complained to the IPCC that the detective’s actions led to the charge being dropped.
In presenting her investigation findings, IPCC Commissioner Rachel Cerfontayne accepted that the case was complex – and that the mother of Miss Godden held an alternative view that the detective’s actions had allowed her to find out what had happened to her daughter.
Ms Cerfontayne said: “It is not possible to determine what may have happened if the PACE codes had been followed. However, notwithstanding the polarised views in this case, and the unimaginable trauma both parents continue to suffer, the evidence is clear.
“Det Supt Stephen Fulcher’s actions were deliberately in breach of PACE and, as a consequence, there is no alternative but to find he has a case to answer for gross misconduct and uphold Mr Godden’s complaint.
“The investigation has also found that Det Supt Fulcher has a case to answer for gross misconduct in relation to the allegations concerning his interaction with the media.
“Despite no longer having responsibility for Op Mayan, and against express orders, he went ahead with meetings about the case with journalists from both the BCC and ITV.
“This behaviour is even more extraordinary when set in the context that the trial judge had already considered whether force press conferences given by Detective Superintendent Fulcher were prejudicial to the case against Halliwell,” Ms Cerfontayne added.