Taxi driver who led police to remains blames 'drug dealers' for woman's fate
A killer taxi driver who confessed to murdering a prostitute and led police to her remains has insisted he never knew her - claiming two drug dealers buried her body in a field.
Christopher Halliwell, 52, is alleged to have strangled Becky Godden, 20, and left her body in a shallow grave in Oxo Bottom field in Eastleach, Gloucestershire, in 2003.
The father-of-three from Swindon, Wiltshire, is currently serving a life sentence with a minimum term of 25 years for murdering officer worker Sian O'Callaghan, 22, in 2011.
He led detectives to Miss O'Callaghan's remains in Uffington, Wiltshire, then confessed to Miss Godden's murder and took them to where she was buried, the court heard.
Halliwell, who is representing himself at his trial at Bristol Crown Court, has since pleaded not guilty to Miss Godden's murder and claims he had no involvement in her death.
Giving evidence, Halliwell claimed he had driven two mystery men and a large sports bag to Oxo Bottom field, where he left them and returned an hour later.
"I didn't know at the time they had buried Rebecca," Halliwell, who was accompanied by security and police officers in court, said.
"I was under the impression it was drugs, money or weapons, I didn't know, I didn't ask. The fact is they said it was temporary.
"They gave the indication that the reason they were getting rid of what they were getting rid of was that things were coming on top for them and for a while they had to hide whatever they were dealing in."
Halliwell claimed he began driving the men to various addresses in Swindon late at night from 2001 to late 2003 and he believed they were drug dealers.
In March 2003, he received a phone call from the men asking where they could "get rid of something for a while" and so he took them to Eastleach.
After dropping the men back in Swindon, they paid him between £600 and £700 in cash, he said.
On the last occasion he saw the men, the front seat passenger was alone and appeared "stoned" on drugs.
"I never made inquiries with him about what happened at Oxo Bottom field but he volunteered the information that when they went out there they had buried a prostitute from Swindon," he said.
Halliwell said he was unsure whether the man - who he repeatedly refused to name in court - was telling the truth but did not speak to him again.
When asked by Nicholas Haggan QC, for the prosecution, to identify the men, Halliwell said he knew their names but feared for his family's safety if he revealed them.
"I'm safely tucked up in a high security prison but suppose they or their associates decide to take things a bit further because they can't get hold of me?" he asked.
Mr Haggan suggested that Halliwell had invented his account of the drug dealers as he would never be released from prison if convicted of Miss Godden's murder.
"What murder? I couldn't care less if I'm found guilty of murder," Halliwell replied.
"I came here to give a truthful account. Not because it matters to me. There are people who want a full and truthful account more than I do."
He described himself as a "quiet, reserved person" when Mr Haggan suggested he was enjoying the spotlight in court.
"This is my worst nightmare," Halliwell insisted.
The jury heard Halliwell had not spoken of the drug dealers when outlining his defence case before or during the trial.
Mr Haggan suggested this was to prevent the prosecution from eliminating the men from the case and from checking details.
Halliwell replied: "What I have to say is for the jury members. I said that I would stand here and tell the absolute truth.
"It has got to come from me and that's why I am defending myself, albeit badly - the truth has to come from me."
The former taxi driver gripped the sides of the witness box and took a blue asthma inhaler as he gave his evidence.
He stood just metres away from Miss Godden's family, including her mother Karen Edwards and her husband Charlie. Miss O'Callaghan's family were also sat in the packed public gallery.
Halliwell, formerly of Ashbury Avenue, Swindon, Wiltshire, denies a single charge of murder and his trial continues.