Accused wife killer Rob Packham smiled when testifying in the Western Cape High Court on Monday, but the smile vanished under cross-examination on Tuesday.
Mr Packham is accused of murdering his wife Gill Packham, 57, in February last year and defeating the ends of justice. He has pleaded not guilty (“Packham denies allegations,” Bulletin April 15).
The State alleges he killed her on February 22, 2018 with a blow, or two, to the head with a blunt object. Ms Packham’s body was found later in the boot of her burnt-out green BMW at Diep River train station.
On Monday, a composed
Mr Packham took to the stand to testify in his defence and occasionally smiled during giving his “evidence in chief”.
However, as senior state prosecutor Susan Galloway continued cross-examination on Tuesday, Mr Packham became more agitated.
According to the State, Mr Packham tried to cover up his crime by asking a former colleague at the Bellville-based Twizza plant to be his alibi. However, Mr Packham said his call to his colleague and friend, Lodewyk Janse van Rensburg, had been misconstrued.
Ms Galloway told the court that Mr Packham had messaged Mr Janse van Rensburg three days after his wife’s murder to remind him of their earlier conversation.
But Mr Packham said he had seen “inflammatory, sensational and factually incorrect information on social media and it was being said that I had asked a colleague to provide an alibi. That is why I reminded him”.
Ms Galloway then asked Mr Packham to look at photographs of crime-scene tyre tracks, which, according to the earlier testimony of a tyre expert, could match the tyres of Mr Packham’s Audi Q5 – based on photographs taken of the vehicle the day after the murder.
She then asked Mr Packham to look at photos taken in August of his car’s tyres, and asked him why he had changed them.
“I did not change the tyres on the vehicle. I object to that question and insinuation,” said a visibly upset Mr Packham.
He added that he had been at his sister’s house in Tokai at the time of the murder, and he was not surprised the tyres did not match. Ms Galloway spent much time going through cellphone evidence supplied by licence plate recognition controller Tarryn Steed and Warrant Officer Reece Harvey of Kirstenhof police.
Mr Packham added new comment to his earlier testimony, saying he had driven to Little Orchard Nursery in Massinger Road, one of his wife’s favourite places, on Thursday February 22 last year.
This corresponds to the journey picked up by cellphone towers and CCTV footage on a journey from his house in The Vines, along Lutius Way, Boundary, Kendal and Myburgh roads between 2.37pm and 3.18pm.
This was followed by the visit to Wynberg police where he said he had tried to report his wife as a missing person.
Mr Packham had seemed confident and had spoken clearly when giving evidence on Monday, but on Tuesday he came across as evasive, not meeting Ms Galloway’s eye as she asked questions and interrupting her.
This was interspersed with requests from Judge Elize Steyn for Mr Packham not to interrupt and objections by defence advocate Craig Webster.
The trial continues.