SWINDON: Man Accused Of Murdering Sian O’Callaghan Remanded In Custody: UPDATED

28 Mar

The man accused of murdering 22-year-old Sian O’Callaghan has been remanded in custody after appearing at Swindon Magistrates’ Court.

Sian Murder: Accused Remanded In Custody Play video

Minicab driver Christopher Halliwell, 47, will next appear at Bristol Crown Court on March 30 for a bail hearing.

He wore a dark grey suit with a white pinstripe shirt for the short hearing and spoke only to confirm his name, address and age. He showed no emotion as the murder charge was read out.

His arrival at court sparked angry scenes, with at least 50 people gathering as the police van carrying him drove past, many shouting abuse and some in tears.

Two men ran up to the van, banging on the side, and were restrained by police.

Miss O’Callaghan was last seen leaving a Swindon nightclub in the early hours of Saturday March 19, and her body was found dumped in a roadside ditch near Uffington in Oxfordshire last Thursday.

Detectives believe it had been moved from its original location and re-deposited at the site.

Further tests are needed to determine the precise cause of death, but there is no evidence Miss O’Callaghan was sexually assaulted before she died.

Meanwhile, police have renewed an appeal for a potentially vital new witness to come forward, who they believe was out hunting in the Savernake Forest when Miss O’Callaghan was abducted.

Phone records show her mobile was somewhere within the 4,500-acre woodland near Marlborough at 3.24am that Saturday morning – when her boyfriend sent a text message saying ‘worried x’, after she failed to come home.

Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, leading the investigation, said: “I would repeat my appeal for anyone out ‘lamping’ [a form of rabbit-hunting] or poaching in the Ramsbury area at any time from 3am on Saturday March 19 to contact the force with any information they might have about suspicious activity in the area, a green Toyota Avensis estate car, or persons in the area around that time.

“I would stress again that I only want information from you that is relevant to the Sian O’Callaghan inquiry. We are not interested in prosecuting anyone for lamping or poaching.”

Police believe Miss O’Callaghan was abducted in a green Toyota Avensis estate taxi as she walked the half mile home alone from the Suju nightclub in Swindon’s old town.

CCTV showed her leaving the club on her own at 2.52am.

Meanwhile, detectives working to identify the remains of a second young woman found on farmland near Eastleach in Gloucestershire have said they should know today if her DNA matches any of the profiles stored on the national database.

For this to be the case, she would have to have been previously arrested by police or reported missing.

Forensic analysis of the remains has suggested the young woman was aged between 23 and 30 when she died.

Det Supt Fulcher said: “It has been indicated to me that this young woman was taken from the Swindon area between 2003 and 2005.

“The inquiry team are liaising with the National Policing Improvement Agency‘s Serious Crime Analysis Section and the national DNA database in connection with the bones recovered from Eastleach.”

NEWS UPDATE

A 47-year-old man arrested on suspicion of two murders – including that of missing nightclubber Sian O’Callaghan – has been named locally as Christopher Halliwell.

Sian: Police Probe Melanie Hall Link Play video

Sian: Police Probe Melanie Hall Link Play video

Sian Police Probe Missing Women Links Enlarge photo

Video: Sian: Police Probe Melanie Hall Link

Detectives, who have been searching near the famous “White Horse” chalk figure in rural Oxfordshire, have found Miss O’Callaghan’s body

Although they say they know the location of a second victim, that body has not been identified and has yet to be recovered.

It is not clear whether the family have been informed and police will not confirm if it is the body of a man or a woman.

Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, who is leading the murder inquiry said the arrested man – named locally as taxi driver Christopher Halliwell – had told them the locations of both bodies.

His arrest on suspicion of two murders and the kidnap of Miss O’Callaghan came hours after police seized a green taxi was seen early on Saturday when she disappeared after leaving a nightclub in Swindon.

Mr Fulcher told a press conference:”A 47-year-old man from Swindon is in custody, having been arrested for kidnap and two murders.

“The location of two bodies have been identified to me by this individual, one of whom has yet to be identified formally, but I am quite clear is Sian.

“I have informed Sian’s family, who are obviously deeply distressed, and I would ask you please to give them time and space to come to terms with what’s happened.

“Having found these bodies, you will appreciate that I am under extreme pressure to undertake certain actions and procedures, and I would ask you to give me some time to enable me to recover these bodies, with the dignity and respect that they deserve.”

He added he was concerned for the family, and the effect this would have on them.

“I want to recover these people and give them the dignity they deserve.”

Police reportedly arrested the suspect outside an Asda supermarket in Swindon.

Detectives have also been searching a semi-detached house in Swindon.

A white police tent was erected in the front garden of the property, which was cordoned off and had three police vans parked outside.

Specialist dog teams were drafted in to help in the search for Miss O’Callaghan after mobile phone technology pinpointed several areas of interest in the 4,500-acre forest.

Police revealed earlier this week that phone records put Miss O’Callaghan’s mobile somewhere in the forest 34 minutes after she left Suju nightclub at 2.52am on Saturday.

It was a journey that could only have been made by car, police said.

Miss O’Callaghan, an office administrator, was caught on CCTV leaving the nightclub, in Swindon’s Old Town area, after an evening out with friends.

She lived in a flat just half a mile away with her boyfriend Kevin Reape, 25.

Mr Reape, a quantity surveyor, raised the alarm at 9.45am on Saturday when she had not returned to their flat.

Police had released CCTV images of Miss O’Callaghan leaving the club and appealed for help finding her LG E900 Optimus mobile phone.

They also released images of items similar to those she may have had in her handbag, including a patterned front door key, a black car key with yellow insulation tape, a Tesco Clubcard key fob and a lip gloss.

Miss O’Callaghan’s family earlier thanked members of the public who had helped in the search for their “beautiful girl”.

Hundreds of people – many who did not know Miss O’Callaghan – joined police searches of Savernake Forest, near Marlborough, or put up posters appealing for help.

“We have been so touched by the support shown by the community that we wanted to express our thanks,” the family said in a statement.

:: Anyone with information is asked to contact Wiltshire Police on 0845 408 7000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

NEWS UPDATE:

Detectives are working urgently to identify the remains of a young woman found on farmland in Gloucestershire.

Police Trying To Identify Woman’s Remains Enlarge photo

The woman is believed to be aged 23-30 and was abducted from the Swindon area between 2003 and 2005, police have said.

The Wiltshire force has no outstanding missing women from that period, so believe she may have come to work in the area from elsewhere in the country.

It will not take long to identify her if DNA recovered from the remains match the profile of any women on the national database.

For this to be the case, she would have to previously have been arrested or reported missing.

Excavation of the site at Baxter’s Farm in Eastleach was completed on Monday and a temporary memorial erected by the officers involved.

A note attached to a small wooden cross in the corner of the field reads: “To an unknown lady – now you can rest in peace” and is signed “Wiltshire, Thames Valley and Avon and Somerset Police.”

Two bunches of flowers have also been laid on the spot.

Meanwhile, the family of murdered Sian O’Callaghan, whose body was found on Thursday near the famous vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire, have spoken publicly for the first time of their “raw” and “overwhelming” grief.

Sian’s father, Mick O’Callaghan, said: “Sian was a bubbly, friendly, caring and loving girl.

“She was instantly likeable, beautiful and considerate.

“Although our pain at this time is raw and overwhelming, our memories of Sian will be a comfort to us in the dark days ahead.”

He also thanked the police for their “inexhaustive” work on the case and for the “continued support” from friends and family, as well as the “overwhelming kindness” of the Swindon community.

There were angry scenes outside Swindon Magistrates’ Court as the man accused of her murder was remanded in custody.

Minicab driver Christopher Halliwell, 47, was led into court under a blanket after crowds attacked the police van carrying him.

Mr Halliwell is due before Bristol Crown Court on Wednesday.

Sian Murder: Man To Appear In Court Play video

Driver remanded over Sian murder

Man in court over Sian murder

Sian Murder: Man Appears In Court

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