Constantia businessman Rob Packham, 58, was sentenced to 22 years direct imprisonment in the Western Cape High Court yesterday for the murder of his wife Gill Packham and for defeating the ends of justice.
Judge Elize Steyn sentenced Packham to 20 years for the murder of his wife and four years for the second count of defeating the ends of justice. Two years of the sentence for the second count will run concurrently with the first count of murder, making it an effective 22 years on both counts.
Judge Steyn also made reference to femicide in the country and how domestic violence had become a scourge in South Africa, with hardly a day passing where a woman or child was not killed. The judge said Packham was a strong, fit, middle-aged man who took advantage of his petite wife who looked up to him for protection.
The judge said that Packham’s actions were immoral and horrid as he put his wife’s body in a boot, drove around with it looking for dumping spots and then set it alight. She said his actions were gruesome, not only towards his wife’s body but also towards their family.
Sentencing began in court on Monday June 10 with the State pushing for a life sentence, saying that Packham, had not shown remorse for his actions. The state also described the killing as cold and brutal, with state prosecutor Susan Galloway saying that Packham was selfish for killing the mother of his children and wife who had tried to salvage their marriage until her death.
Ms Galloway said Packham had simply removed his wife from his life when he no longer wanted her.
Judge Steyn pointed out that Packham had fabricated some of the information he had provided to the court, sometimes changing his initial statements. Judge Steyn described Packham as a deceiver and said that emotionally, he did not appear to be someone who was mourning the loss of his wife.
She said that Packham had not been open with the court about regretting his actions or wanting to go to therapy. She said he
also had not expressed missing his wife.
Packham was found guilty on May 20 for the murder of his wife and defeating the administration of justice.
The couple had been experiencing problems of infidelity throughout their 30-year marriage, with Packham having had a number of mistresses.
Packham was arrested in February 2018 shortly after his wife’s body was found in the boot of her BMW at the Diep River train station. Packham told the court that his wife may have died in a hijacking but the evidence proved against that.
Packham’s advocate, Craig Webster, used Packham’s daughter’s previous statement in defence of his client.
Packham’s oldest daughter, Kerry Meyer, 28, testified in court last month (“Packham found guilty”, Constantiaberg Bulletin, May 23). Ms Meyer pleaded with the court not to sentence her father to life, saying that he had been a great father to her and she would not want her children to grow up not knowing their grandfather. Judge Steyn said that she believed that Ms Meyer had not accepted that her father was guilty of the murder.
Mr Webster suggested that Packham be sentenced to 12 to 15 years. He said that Packham had made a contribution to society as a successful businessman, husband and father. Mr Webster also pointed out that it was his client’s first conviction and pleaded with the court to
show mercy towards him because of that.
Mr Webster described Packham’s actions as unplanned and something that may have happened out of anger.