Sian O'Callaghan murder case officer's conduct hearing to be held in private next week

This Is Wiltshire: DSI Steve Fulcher DSI Steve Fulcher

THE detective who cracked the Sian O’Callaghan murder case will face a fight for his career when he goes before a Wiltshire Police conduct hearing on Monday.

Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, who led the investigation into the disappearance and murder of the 22-year-old in March 2011, faces three allegations of gross misconduct over alleged breaches of force policy and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

Last year, the Independent Police Complaints Commission found DSI Fulcher had a case to answer to over breaches of PACE while interviewing Sian’s killer Chris Halliwell at Barbury Castle and later in Uffington.

It was said he failed to caution the suspect when he offered to take him to Sian’s body and then to ‘another one’.

Becky Godden-Edwards’ body was found in a field in Eastleach shortly after Sian’s was discovered at Uffington, but a judge ruled his confession inadmissible due to breaches of the PACE code.

Halliwell, 49, of Ashbury Avenue, Nythe, was jailed for life for Sian’s murder but a second charge for Becky’s murder was withdrawn due to a lack of evidence.

Since then Becky’s mother Karen Edwards has led a campaign to change the law.

Karen, 52, who has staunchly defended DSI Fulcher for finding her daughter, said: “He should not be in this position. He does not deserve this.

“I haven’t been allowed to see him but I cannot wait to see him again and shake his hand. He’s been fantastic and he did the right thing. The public are behind him.”

The conduct panel, made up of a chief constable and chief superintendent from other forces and an independent member of the public, will be tasked with deciding whether or not DSI Fulcher committed gross misconduct in relation to the case.

The panel was directed to be heard in private by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, and Wiltshire Police have advised the media to stay away during the hearing next week.

The hearing is expected to last five days and is due to conclude on Friday, January 24 when a decision is likely to be made.

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: “Under paragraph 32 of the Police Conduct Regulations 2008, the IPCC have the power to direct that the whole or part of the hearing is held in public.

“The IPCC decided not to make that direction so it will be a private hearing.

“We will inform the media of the panel’s decision when it has been made. Can we ask that you do not attend the hearing or come on site for its duration.

“It would be inappropriate for Wiltshire Police to make any comment until the hearing has concluded.”

Top solicitors are ready to put detective’s case

Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher will have a crack legal team in his corner when his career goes on the line at a Wiltshire Police conduct hearing on Monday.

Solicitors from specialist law firm Lewis Hymanson Small LLP have been instructed by the Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales to represent DSI Fulcher as he faces three charges of gross misconduct at a behind-closed doors hearing that could last four to five days.

Meanwhile, John Beggs QC, whom Chambers and Partners referred to in 2012 as being the person who literally wrote the book on this area of law, is the counsel instructed by LHS Solicitors for the case.

LHS partner Deirdré Scott specialises in police law, regulatory offences and serious fraud, with the Superintendents’ Association her main client.

She advises on internal discipline, police misconduct investigations, representation at interview and hearings.

She also advises officers investigated for criminal offences.

She has also acted for officers involved in the Deepcut Army bullying scandal, as well as the Cardiff Three corruption trial that collapsed in 2011.

She also represented a retired officer at the inquests into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed.

Her colleague Imran Khan, who will be present at the hearing itself, successfully defended then-temporary Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Neil Rhodes, who had suspended but has since been installed as Chief Constable of the force.

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