Job is safe but cop’s left ‘broken’
12:00am Friday 24th January 2014 in By Scott D'Arcy
KAREN Edwards, mother of murdered Becky Godden-Edwards, has welcomed news the detective who found her daughter has kept his job – but has described him as a ‘broken man’.
Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher was given a final written warning after being found guilty of gross misconduct – allowing him to keep his job.
The independent panel delivered the sanction for the two counts of gross misconduct relating to the investigation into Sian O’Callaghan’s disappearance and murder in March 2011.
Karen, 52, who has campaigned to change police procedural laws, said: “When I found out he is keeping his job I just could not stop crying, I was hysterical. It’s great news for him.”
Meanwhile, his solicitor Imran Khan, of specialist law firm LHS Solicitors, said: “It’s fantastic news for him. I’m pleased for him.
“He is grateful for all the support he has received, grateful to the panel for their thorough consideration of the matter and he accepts the findings of the panel.
“Steve wishes to express his thanks to those who have supported him throughout this very sad case.
“At all times Steve Fulcher has been motivated by a desire to serve the public and do the best that he can for the victims, their families and for Wiltshire Police.
“He is grateful for the support he has received from many people and in particular, humbled by the support he has received from Becky’s mother, Karen Edwards, and Sian’s partner Kevin Reape, when they have suffered such tragic loss.
“Steve Fulcher is a dedicated police officer and is fully committed to Wiltshire Police. He wishes to return to work as soon as possible to continue serving the public and to move forward from this upsetting and stressful episode in his life and that of his family.”
DSI Fulcher was found guilty of gross misconduct in relation to breaches of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act in not cautioning Sian’s killer Chris Halliwell during interviews at Barbury Castle and Uffington, and ignoring force orders not to talk directly to the media during the case.
He was found guilty on Wednesday night, but the sanction was not delivered until yesterday morning and Karen said she could not sleep for worrying.
Karen said: “When they said gross misconduct my heart was pounding in my chest – I felt physically sick, to be honest. It was very emotional.
“I thought ‘oh no they are going to get rid of him’. But then I found out he is keeping his job and I just could not stop crying.
“Yes, Steve breached PACE but he breached it for the right reasons.
“I think the same of him now as I did when he knocked on my door on 4 April 2011 and told me the news. He is a compassionate and honest man.
“It is going to take Steve a long time to get over this – he looked like a broken man in that court room and I felt his pain. He was shattered and I just wanted to give him a huge hug.
“He has put an evil predator behind bars and if he had done what PACE told him to do then Sian may never have been put to rest and I would have never have known Becky was in that field.”
Yesterday, Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Pat Geenty said he accepted the panel’s decision and he had admiration for officers who had to make life and death decisions.
He said: “Serious and major crime investigations are a complex aspect of policing and are often fast paced and highly charged.
“I have great admiration for senior investigating officers across the country who have to make life and death decisions.
“As always, it is vital that investigations are rigorously reviewed in order that good practice, lessons learnt and areas for development are identified.
“Furthermore, in line with the very prominent national concern regarding the integrity and transparency of the police service, I reiterate that I expect the highest level of professional conduct from all of my officers and staff.
“I fully respect the findings of the panel today and the process that has taken place, and I abide by the decision they have made.
“DSI Fulcher will continue to be given the appropriate welfare support within the organisation.
“I would like to take this opportunity to pay my respects to the families of both Sian and Rebecca.
“Both families have been through the trauma of not only losing a loved one in horrific circumstances, but have had to endure several hearings, court cases and legal processes.
“I hope that all parties can now move forward.
“It would be inappropriate for me to comment any further at this stage due to any possible future appeal.”
But John Godden, Becky’s father, posted on the Justice for Becky Godden Facebook page that he felt let down by the decision.
He wrote: “They have failed & betrayed my beautiful daughter!!
“I really am at my lowest now the police are a law unto them selves!!
“I stand tall & proud in the knowledge of trying to get the truth out there!! but we have been failed by the ipcc the cps & the police right up to the corrupt british government.”
Detective was at top of profession
Steve Fulcher was a police officer at the top of his game when he was put in charge of the Sian O’Callaghan case, which began as a missing person’s case.
With a degree in criminology from the University of Cambridge, he joined Sussex Police in 1986 before moving to Wiltshire in 2003.
He has vast experience in major and serious organised crime, having held the position of Director of Intelligence and Head of Crime Investigation.
During his time in Sussex he was involved with the Sara Payne murder inquiry, and in Wiltshire, as a senior investigating officer, he has been in charge of a number of high-profile murder investigations.
A Facebook page, ‘Well done Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher’, was set up in his honour in the wake of the Sian case and more than 3,000 people have said they like it.
Interviews breached police guidelines
Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, who led the investigation into the disappearance and murder of the 22-year-old in March 2011, faced three allegations of gross misconduct over alleged breaches of force policy and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act – known as
Last year, the Independent Police Complaints Commission found DSI Fulcher had a case to answer over breaches of PACE while interviewing Sian O’Callaghan’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 22-year-old Sian’s was discovered at Uffington, but a judge ruled that Swindon cab driver Halliwell’s confession was 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.
The other charges related to his dealings with the media, including talking to the BBC and ITV when he was ordered not to by the force.
Yesterday brought to an end almost three years of court cases, legal action and turmoil for the families involved in the horrific case.
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