Becky Godden farmland grave: Narrative verdict recorded
- 23 April 2013
- From the section England
A woman whose body was found in the Cotswolds probably died "an unnatural and violent death", an inquest heard.
Becky Godden's remains were discovered after Christopher Halliwell led police, investigating the murder of Sian O'Callaghan, to a field in 2011.
The inquest at Oxford Coroner's Court was told the medical cause of death was unascertained but probably caused unlawfully by a third party.
A narrative verdict was recorded on her death, thought to have been in 2003.
The court heard the last sighting of Miss Godden, from Swindon, was by a police officer on 27 December 2002 in the Manchester Road area of Swindon.
Her family did not know where she was and thought she was living in the Bristol area.
It was not until police knocked on their door on what would have been her 29th birthday - 4 April 2011 - they discovered the truth.
Oxfordshire Coroner Darren Salter told the inquest he had a "limited remit" regarding the circumstances of Miss Godden's death.
He said under the Coroner's Act the coroner could only express an opinion over the circumstances of the death and that any verdict should not appear to determine criminal liability on the part of a named person.
"Specifically in relation to this case there is a police investigation into the death of Becky and it is still ongoing and it has not concluded," Mr Salter said.
"I am not going to prejudice any future criminal prosecution by naming in this court any suspect previously connected to the case.
"For the same reason I am not going to deal specifically with the circumstances whereby the location of Becky's remains became known to the police.
"It is sufficient for me to say that the police received information leading them to the location."
The court was told Miss Godden was buried in a shallow grave at Baxter's Farm, Fyfield, in Gloucestershire.
It is believed she died sometime between the end of 2002 and the beginning of 2003, the court was told.
Miss Godden's remains, which had been there for several years, were incomplete with the skull, arms and feet not present.
She had turned to prostitution after becoming addicted to heroin and broke contact with her family after saying she could not put her mother through the pain of watching her succumb to drugs.
Her family had previously paid for private rehabilitation treatment in an effort to help her "get clean".
Speaking outside court her mother, Karen Edwards, said the verdict meant they would never know what happened.
"When they handed me back Becky's remains I was told not to open the box which I wouldn't have done anyway.
"I didn't realise how little there was in that box of my daughter.
"That was hard, really hard to hear all those little details again," she added.
Halliwell was jailed for life for the murder of Miss O'Callaghan but a senior Wiltshire officer's failure to follow the rules meant the murder charge in Miss Godden's case had to be dropped.
A High Court judge ruled the admissions father-of-three Halliwell made during a three-hour period on the day of his arrest were inadmissible because Det Supt Steve Fulcher breached guidelines governing the interviewing of suspects.
The detective, who was leading the hunt for Miss O'Callaghan, failed to caution Halliwell and denied him a solicitor.
The ruling by Mrs Justice Cox meant that Wiltshire Police had no other evidence against Halliwell to link him to Miss Godden's death and the murder charge was withdrawn.