Thursday 8 December 2016

'Smirking serial killer' taxi driver Christopher Halliwell will die behind bars for second murder

Published 23/09/2016 | 12:18

Undated handout file photo issued by Wiltshire Police of taxi driver Christopher Halliwell
Undated handout file photo issued by Wiltshire Police of taxi driver Christopher Halliwell

A killer taxi driver who murdered two young women has been sentenced to a whole life order.

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Christopher Halliwell, 52, is already serving a life sentence for the murder of Sian O'Callaghan, 22, who he abducted in his taxi as she made her way home from a night out in Swindon in March 2011.

Rebecca Godden
Rebecca Godden

He confessed to killing Miss O'Callaghan and took police to her body before offering "another one" and leading them to where he had buried missing prostitute Becky Godden in January 2003.

Halliwell later denied murdering Miss Godden but was convicted following a two-week trial at Bristol Crown Court, at which he represented himself.

He smirked at Miss Godden's family as the jury of six men and six women returned their verdict on Monday following less than three hours of deliberations.

Retired High Court judge Sir John Griffith Williams sentenced Halliwell to a whole life order on Friday.

Passing sentence, the judge described Halliwell's account of Miss Godden being buried in the field by two drug dealers as a "cock and bull story".

He added: "Your account of the circumstances in which she met her death bears all the hallmarks of a contrived explanation designed to avoid conviction in the hope that the minimum term you are presently serving will not be increased.

"But the account in which you advanced so glibly with little or no regard to the truth made no sense at all.

"I have had the opportunity of observing you throughout the trial and listening to your evidence. I have no doubt that you are a self-centred and domineering individual who wants his own way. You are both calculating and devious."

The judge told Halliwell he would die in prison and as he was led away, he said: "Thank you."

The judge said Halliwell had robbed Miss Godden of a "potentially fulfilling life".

"I am satisfied your conduct amounted to abduction.

"Rebecca Godden did not want to go with you and would certainly not have gone with you had she known you were prepared to rape her and to use violence if she did not do as you told her," he said.

"There was clearly sexual conduct and your offending was aggravated by your concealment of the body.

"I observe that you lied to the jury about the circumstances of the murder of Sian O'Callaghan, just as you lied to the jury about the circumstances of the murder of Rebecca Godden.

"A feature of your evidence which I would not have been alone in considering greatly unfeeling was the contradiction in your claims that you wanted to spare the family of Sian O'Callaghan further grief and yet you did not take the police straight to her body, and despite your confessions to Superintendent Fulcher, you made 'no comment' answers when you were interviewed about her murder.

"You then pleaded not guilty and so compounded and added to the grief of her family.

"You have put the family of Rebecca Godden through similar anguish, first confessing to her murder and then answering no comment to all questions in interview.

"After what must have been hours of trawling through the prosecution papers, you devised a cock and bull story about two drug dealers.

"I cannot add to your sentence for such cynical indifference to the concerns of the families but it is clear to me that there is nothing which can mitigate your sentence.

"I am satisfied that there are real similarities between the two murders. The fact that some nine years elapsed between them probably reflects the absence of opportunities.

"I have concluded both murders involved the abduction of the victim and sexual conduct and both were aggravated by the concealment of the bodies.

"I am satisfied your offending is exceptionally high and satisfies the criteria for a whole life term. Were I to impose a minimum term it would be of such length that you would in all probability never be released.

"I sentence you to life imprisonment and direct there will be a whole life order."

The judge said he was satisfied Halliwell knew Miss Godden and their relationship was "not conventional".

He said: "I consider it unlikely that you were besotted with her. In my judgment your behaviour towards her was controlling. You used her for sex whenever you wanted to, taking advantage of her vulnerability as a drug addict and prostitute. She had little or no time for you."

In the early hours of January 3 2003, Halliwell drove up to outside the Destiny and Desire nightclub in Swindon and "summoned" Miss Godden, the judge said.

"That could only have been because you wanted her to go with you for sex, but she was clearly not interested. A row developed during which she yelled at you, clear evidence that she did not want to go with you.

"She returned again to her friend but you did not drive off and so it was that she went to your taxi and got into a rear seat. Rebecca Boast describes her as 'huffed' - that is to say annoyed - and I conclude she joined you unwillingly.

"You then drove to somewhere private, most probably to the south of Swindon and to Savernake Forest, where eight years later you took Sian O'Callaghan.

"What happened then must be a matter of inference. I take at my starting point the evidence of your injuries when you were examined later that day by your GP - a broken little finger and scratches to your face.

"I reject your evidence that you had been involved in a fight with a would-be passenger. I conclude you must have attacked Rebecca Godden - that attack must have been prompted by her refusing you sex.

"When she put up a struggle you killed her. You clearly intended to kill her. I add that I am certain she struggled desperately in an attempt to save her life but she was physically no match for you."

The judge said Halliwell then buried Miss Godden's naked body - having first removed her clothing to destroy forensic evidence - in an "isolated" field.

"You returned again and again over the following years to make sure that her body was not visible in that shallow grave," the judge said.

"When on March 24 2011 you realised you had no chance of avoiding detection for the murder of Sian O'Callaghan, you very briefly allowed the little conscience you have to prompt your confession to the murder of Rebecca Godden.

"I consider that but for that confession, there is every prospect that Rebecca Godden's remains would not have been found, but such mitigation that provides is overweighed by your subsequent behaviour.

"Following your arrest you answered 'no comment' to all questions and you have since sought to manipulate, first to the police investigation and then the court process, in a futile attempt to avoid the punishment you so richly deserve."

Before he was sentenced, Halliwell, who was wearing an open neck pale blue shirt rolled up to his elbows, refused the opportunity to offer any mitigation.

Before rising, the judge praised Miss Godden's family for their "quiet dignity and courtesy".

Addressing them, he said: "You have had to live with every parent's nightmare of a missing child and then the discovery that she had been dead for some years, buried naked in a field.

"You have been deprived of the opportunity we all want to say farewell to our closest and dearest. And then you have had to live through the criminal processes as Christopher Halliwell was brought eventually to justice.

"There must have been moments when you wondered whether the case would ever be completed. If I may say so, you have behaved throughout with quiet dignity and courtesy.

"I hope that you will feel justice has been done and while that cannot bring Becky back, that may at least bring you some solace.

"I will include Mr and Mrs O'Callaghan because this trial must have been an ordeal for them as they had to relive the evidence of how Sian died. They too behaved with dignity and courtesy. I pay tribute to you all."

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