Sian O’Callaghan was killed from head injuries inflicted on her, the court heard today, as the inquest into the Swindon clubber’s murder opened.
The 22-year-old’s family were not in court to hear the opening of the trial, which included the news that their daughter probably died from injuries to her head.
A Home Office forensic pathologist is still working to confirm a precise cause of death, however.
Coroner Nicholas Gardiner said: “I think the actual cause of death has not yet been defined but is likely to be head injuries of some description.”
Halliwell’s defence team are still deciding whether to exercise their right to request a second post-mortem examination, meaning Sian cannot be buried yet.
Sian O’Callaghan went missing on March 19 after a night out clubbing with friends in Swindon. After leaving the club alone, she was not heard from again.
A week later Sian’s body was discovered near the Uffington White Horse near Oxfordshire. A second – as yet unidentified – body of a young woman was found nearby.
Detectives are trying to discover the identity of the second murder victim.
Taxi driver Christopher Halliwell, 47, has appeared in court charged with Sian’s murder.
Sian’s mother said that the news of her daughter’s death was worse than anything she could have imagined.
“I always had hope but I still tried to prepare myself for the worst,” Mrs O’Callaghan told the Swindon Advertiser.
“It was the worst of the worst that I could’ve imagined. But it was a relief in a way. I would have hated to live the rest of my life looking over my shoulder and looking at every brunette girl, wondering if it was her.”
Det Supt Steve Fulcher, who lead the search for Sian, said outside the court than Sian’s family were struggling on.
“It is a horrific trauma for them. I want them to have closure and they need to organise her funeral,” he said.
Father of three Halliwell, a taxi driver, has been remanded in custody and will appear via video link at Bristol Crown Court on April 8.