A Confession viewers have been shocked by the twists and turns in the TV version of the horrific true story of serial killer Christopher Halliwell.
The killer was finally brought to justice by Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, who discovered he had murdered a second victim while investigating the disappearance of Sian O’Callaghan.
However, DS Fulcher, played by Martin Freeman in the ITV drama series, was found guilty of gross misconduct and given a final disciplinary warning.
The manner in which Steve gained Halliwell’s confession to killing second victim Becky Godden-Edwards breached police procedure by failing to caution him and denying access to a solicitor.
This almost derailed the court case against Halliwell and called into question one of the most important principles of the criminal justice system.
Judge Mrs Justice Cox ruled both of Halliwell’s confessions were inadmissable as evidence because Fulcher had breached Police and Criminal Evidence Act guidelines.
According to the PACE rules, he should have cautioned the killer and given him access to a solicitor after discovering that Sian was dead.
An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission in 2013 found the police officer had a case to answer for gross misconduct for ignoring force orders.
The following January Det Supt Fulcher was found guilty of gross misconduct and given a final disciplinary warning.
Fulcher made the decision to resign from Wiltshire Police force in May, 2014.
Steve, who went on to get a job as a consultant for a private company in Somalia which offers aid from the Foreign Office, admitted he was shunned when trying to find work in the UK..
Wiltshire Police told the BBC : “The IPCC investigation concluded that a misconduct hearing should take place to consider potential gross misconduct. The force… arranged for an independent misconduct panel to convene.
“The panel considered independently whether or not the actions of Steve Fulcher had breached the standards of professional behaviour that apply to all police officers in England and Wales.
“Further to the hearing, Steve Fulcher was found guilty of two counts of gross misconduct (the execution of his duty and inappropriate contact with the media) and received two final written warnings, but remained a member of Wiltshire Police.
“He later decided of his own volition to resign from Wiltshire Police.”
Fulcher opened up on the case last year on ITV documentary To Catch A Serial Killer – With Trevor McDonald.
He said: “My view is that I have brought two daughters back to their mothers and I’ve prevented other victims resulting from Halliwell’s continued pursuit of his career as a serial killer.
“But for my course of action Becky would still be in that field, Sian would never be found and Christopher Halliwell would be walking the streets.”
Some claimed the manner in which Steve gained Halliwell’s confessions was “arrogant and reckless”.
While others insisted it was actually brilliant detective work, with the mothers of the victims praising DS Fulcher for finding their daughters.
Sian’s mother Elaine Pickford, who is played by Sobhan Finneran, was grateful to DS Fulcher.
Speaking on To Catch A Serial Killer – With Trevor McDonald, Elaine said: “Steve did what I think any family member would want an officer to do for them.”
However, criminal defence barrister Sebastian Gardiner said their must be a way to ensure “police powers are not abused”.
“You have to look at the wider picture and say, ‘Alright, do we need to have a way of ensuring that police powers are not abused, that people aren’t bullied into making confessions?,'” said Gardiner.
He added: “It wasn’t ignorance on his part, it was a conscious decision by him to drive a coach and horses through recognised police procedure.”
*A Confession airs Mondays on ITV at 9pm