It is May 6th 2021, a day of elections. Most of the parishes lie uncontested (except the neighbouring village of Pewsey which has 30 candidates! Democracy!) due to their being less people willing to be councillors (me one of them) than seats.
There’s also the district and the police commissioner. The latter was last on my list of importance; my first concern was finding out who was standing for Wiltshire County. That is, until my other half said that Mike Rees, a former copper, was standing as an independent and, not only that, wanted to reopen the case into other potential victims of Christopher Halliwell.
Halliwell is the killer of Becky Godden-Edwards and Sian O’Callaghan. He was caught simply because he mistook his final victim, Sian, for a prostitute. Sian, however, was a woman with a regular routine and a boyfriend and was missed straightaway after she didn’t return after a night out in her home town of Swindon. A decent bit of policing led by DS Steve Fulcher caught Halliwell and a bit of rule breaking by the DS and an out-of-oath confession led to Becky who’d been missing for eight years.
During their hunt for Becky’s body they found 60 items of women’s clothing around a Ramsbury pond. Fulcher, who was drummed out of the force for his breach of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act in accepting Halliwell’s offer of ‘do you want another one?’, said in his 2017 book, “If my suspicions are right, if the evidence in the trophy store suggests a truth that still lies hidden, then Halliwell had a prolific propensity to murder – perhaps as often and once or twice a year.”
In 2016, speaking after the trial at which Halliwell was convicted of murdering Miss Godden-Edwards, Det Supt Sean Memory said: “Halliwell talked candidly in 1985 about wanting to be a serial killer and I genuinely believe that’s a distinct possibility.”
But since then, although the case is open, the police have not been actively pursuing leads.
Why is this important? Surely Halliwell is safely in jail, never again to endanger another woman? Not himself personally, but the message that he sends out – look I can get away with murdering these sorts of women – is deadly.
Becky was addicted to drugs and worked as a prostitute but she was a woman and a vulnerable young woman at that. Policing seems not to be able to protect women with chaotic lives, without a hook firmly in home ground. They seem easy pickings for men like Halliwell who can use, kill and dump them and no one will know for possibly years, beyond a mother yearning for her absent daughter foxed by a father scoring points with fake sightings.
How we can keep women like Becky safe is a longer, complicated issue involving questions like how we as a society can better support her, work on solutions to the problems with led her to the false comfort of drugs and men like Halliwell? But we can make a start by ensuring that other Becky’s do not disappear into mist, discarded dolls buried in a wood somewhere. Show that these women, all women, matter; they are recognised and valued. That we aren’t just separating ourselves from predators, but that more predators aren’t made.
Pictured: Becky Godden-Edwards