Things are hotting up in the icy Court 6 in the Western Cape High Court as senior state prosecutor Susan Galloway cross-examines alleged wife murderer, Rob Packham.
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 that she was killed on February 22, 2018 by a blow, or two, to the head with a blunt object. She was later found in the boot of her burnt 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”.
As stated by Lieutenant Colonel Christiaan Labuschagne, who was called as a State witness last month, “Mr Packham looked relaxed and was busy on his phone” when he spoke to him at Wynberg police station.
As Ms Galloway continued cross-examination on Tuesday, Mr Packham become 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 messaged Mr Janse Van Rensburg three days later after his wife’s murder to remind him of that conversation. He 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 the Constantia man why he had changed the tyres on his white Audi Q5 in 2018. “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 was at his sister’s house in Tokai at the time of the murder and was not suprised the tyres do not match. Ms Galloway asked him to look at photos taken at the crime scene of the tyres fitted to the car on the day following the murder which differered from those taken in August. Among these photos were others taken of the burnt car which she had asked Mr Packham not to look at because they were of a sensitive nature. Mr Packham showed no emotion as he flicked through the pages.
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 testimony, saying he had driven to Little Orchard Nursery in Massinger Road, one of his wife’s favourite places. This corresponds to the journey picked up by cellphone towers and CCTV footage on a journey from his house in The Vines, 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 tried to report his wife as a missing person.
Mr Packham had been confident and clear when giving his evidence but on Tuesday he came across as evasive, not meeting Ms Galloway’s eye as she asked questions or interrupting her. This was interspersed with requests from Judge Elize Steyn for him not to do so and objections by defence advocate Craig Webster.
The trial continues.