Constantia businessman Rob Packham cried in court yesterday as his eldest daughter begged a judge to show her father mercy for murdering her mother.
“I don’t want to take away the difficult job of sentencing, but, if possible, take into account what a wonderful dad he is and not to put him away forever,” Kerry Meyer, 28, said in the Western Cape High Court, in mitigation of sentencing
Packham is due to be sentenced on Tuesday June 11 after being found guilty of murdering his wife, Gill.
State prosecutor Susan Galloway asked Ms Meyer, a teacher in Oxford, how she felt that, “your mom is not here for the rest of your life. She will never know your children”.
“Thanks for pointing that out,” Ms Meyer replied.
JudgeElizeSteynaskedMs Meyer whether her mother’s death was made worse by the fact that her body had been burnt in her car.
Ms Meyer replied: “He is still my father.”
Packhamwasconvicted,on Monday, of murder and defeating the ends of justice. He had pleaded not guilty.
Gill Packham disappeared on February 22 last year. Her body was found later in the boot of her burnt-out BMW at Diep River train station.
Delivering her guilty verdict this week, Judge Steyn described Packham, 58, as an “accomplished liar” and a “crafty, competent deceiver, livingaselfish,multi-faceted, destructive life”. He had deceived both his wife and his mistress, she said.
As Packahm left the packed Court 6 in handcuffs on Monday, his daughter Nicola, 26, mouthed the words, “I love you”.
Following the judgment, Gill’s sisters, Helen and Sue Humphrey, issued a statement. “For the past 15 months, we have been dealing with the brutal murder of our sister, Gillian Packham (* ée Humphrey), and the subsequent revelations of the tragic and painful circumstances she was subjected to in the years and months leading up her murder by Rob Packham.
“While we became aware of some of these details in the last few months of her life, the conspiracy of silence surrounding Gill meant that we have only learned the full extent of what was taking place in the Packham family through this trial.
“Today’s outcome by Judge Steyn allows us to acknowledge that justice has occurred for our sister. The fact that justice has been done does not take away the fact that girls lost their mother and we lost a beautiful sister.”
In her three-and-a-half-hour judgment, Judge Steyn said all the evidence pointed “overwhelmingly” to Packham’s guilt.
“His version is clearly fabricated, cannot reasonably, possibly or probably be true and is rejected,” she said.
According to a Pollsmoor prison source, Packam is being kept in a single cell in the maximum-security wing “for his own safety”.
CAN BE CUT FROM HERE IF NECESSARY…
When the trial began on Monday March 11, senior state prosecutor Susan Galloway asked for a life sentence or a minimum of 15 years.
Based on forensic evidence, including CCTV footage, cellphone records and eyewitness statements it is possible to plot the sequence of events that led to Ms Packham’s death.
Dr Louise Friedling testified that Ms Packham died from one or two blows to her head causing a fractured skull and broken jaw, sometime during the night of February 21. The court heard that the unhappily married couple had fought bitterly on the previous night.
The murder weapon, Ms Packham’s handbag, cellphone and the car registration plates have never been recovered.
Ms Packham’s colleague, Bernice Moore, was the first witness to take the stand on Monday March 11 and told how she had started calling Ms Packham’s family when she didn’t arrive for work at Springfield Convent School at 7.30am.
At 7.34am, CCTV footage shows Ms Packham’s car leaving the couple’s R4.5 million Riesling Road home with no number plates and a white man wearing a cap at the wheel.
Packham claimed to have been driving in his own white Audi Q5 SUV at that time, shopping for a new car for his wife.
At 9.47am, Packham arrived at his workplace, the Twizza softdrink plant in Bellville, where he was the general manager. He switched on his phone to receive a distress call from his daughter.
At 2pm Bergvliet Meadowridge Kreupelbosch (BKM) neighbourhood watch patroller Paul Gray noticed the BMW parked in Lucius Way, about 750m from the Packham home. He said there were no number plates or disc and a white man was banging the steering wheel. Mr Gray later identified Packham in an identity parade.
At 2.15pm, the BMW was seen in Kendal Road on CCTV footage. At 2.37pm, Packham’s phone was linked to this area and Diep River train station.
Packham claimed he was visiting his wife’s favourite places – one of them is Little Orchard Nursery in Massinger Road.
Packham then drove to Wynberg police station where he said he tried to report his wife as a missing person.
At 6pm he arrived exhausted at Judy Markwell’s house in Tokai where he had dinner with his sister while continuing to phone family members.
He left at 9.17pm and 9.30pm he was seen by Keenan Thomas and his friend Lance Govender leaving Diep River train station in his Audi as the BMW was burning.
Mr Thomas identified Packham from 12 pictures compiled by Sergeant Hellenic Jones and Constable Nomalungia Hokoza-Taba in an identity parade held at Hout Bay police station in April last year.
Tyre expert Captain Danie van der Westhuizen took photos of the tyre prints of the vehicle seen leaving the crime scene and testified that, when he examined the tyres on Packham’s Audi at the Diep River police station six months later, “the pattern was totally different”.
Packham denied changing the tyres.
Blood spots matching Ms Packham were found inside the garage door and in the couple’s en-suite bathroom.
Packham claimed his wife cut herself while sorting the recycling.