Friday, January 24, 2014

Top British detective to keep job despite being guilty of gross misconduct

A senior detective who was found guilty of gross misconduct over his handling of a high-profile double murder case is to keep his job.

Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher was suspended from the Wiltshire Force more than a year ago following complaints about his investigation into the disappearance of 22-year-old Sian O’Callaghan from a Swindon nightclub in March 2011.

The highly experienced officer ignored procedures and subjected his suspect to questioning without the presence of a lawyer, outside the confines of a police station.

DS Fulcher faced a police disciplinary hearing accused of three allegations of gross misconduct over alleged breaches of force policy and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and had been criticised in an independent report into his handling of the murders of Miss O'Callaghan and another young woman, Becky Godden-Edwards, several years before.

The formal conduct hearing before an independent panel began on Monday and had been expected to last up to five days.

Last year the force said it had made the decision to proceed with a disciplinary hearing after reviewing a report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) into the running of Operation Mayan.

The police watchdog report found Mr Fulcher breached the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (Pace) and ignored orders from his own force during the inquiry into murder suspect Christopher Halliwell.

The IPCC report recommended that Wiltshire Police should consider a charge of gross misconduct against Mr Fulcher.

A joint statement released by DS Fulcher's legal team and the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales said: "Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher acknowledges and accepts the findings of the panel and is grateful for the thorough consideration given to the facts of his case.

"Steve Fulcher 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 the 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."

DS Fulcher’s unorthodox approach resulted in local taxi driver, Christopher Halliwell, admitting to the murder of Miss O’Callaghan.

But then in an unexpected twist the 49-year-old also confessed to having killed another girl Miss Godden-Edwards.

There was enough forensic evidence linking to Halliwell to Miss O’Callaghan to secure a conviction and he was jailed for life for her murder in October 2011.

But despite having shown officers where he had dumped her body the charges relating to Miss Godden-Edwards were thrown out on the grounds that DS Fulcher had failed to follow the correct arrest procedures.

The decision, which effectively robbed Miss Godden-Edwards’ family of justice, caused outrage at the time and has led to calls for PACE to be overhauled to prevent similar situations occurring in the future.

Original report here




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