Week two: Mistress testifies in Packham trial

Diep River train station - the scene of the crime.

Mr Packham has pleaded not guilty to murder and defeating the ends of justice.

His wife Gill’s charred body was found in the back of her burnt-out green BMW at Diep River train station on Thursday February 22.

If she was alive, Gill Packham would have been celebrating her 59th birthday today, March 21.

Wednesday March 13

Keanan Thomas, of Diep River, testified that he identified Mr Packham as the man he had seen driving away from the burning car on Thursday February 22 last year at 10pm.

Monday March 18

Holding a plastic skull, biological anthropologist Dr Louise Friedling testified that Gill had died from blunt trauma of such force it had shattered the petrous bone of the inner ear, the hardest bone in the human body.

Dr Friedling said Gill’s skull had been fractured on the right side before she died and fractured on the left post mortem.

Sergeant Hellenic Jones and Constable Nomalungia Hokoza-Taba detailed a collage of 12 pictures in an identity parade held at Hout Bay police station in April last year.

Mr Packham’s counsel is arguing that his client’s picture had been widely published following Gill’s death.

Mr Packham’s sister, Judith Markwell, testified she had been with her brother when he had gone to the train station on the night the burning car was reported after they had had supper at her Tokai home.

The case is being streamed live, but Ms Markwell asked for her testimony to not be recorded or filmed.

Police forensics officer Captain Danie van der Westhuizen told the court how he had compared the crime-scene tyre impressions with photos of Mr Packham’s white Audi Q5’s tyres taken shortly after Gill’s death. He had found that the Audi’s tyres at the time could possibly have made the impression at the crime scene.

He said that on August 3 2018 he had again examined the tyres on Mr Packham’s vehicle at the Diep River police station and this time the pattern had been totally different to the tyre-track impression found at the crime scene. Captain Van der Westhuizen said the zig-zag pattern had been the same, but he had not found any unique marks on the crime scene print to be absolutely sure.

Lieutenant Colonel Christiaan Labuschange was commander at Wynberg police station in 2018 when Mr Packham arrived at the counter at about 5.30pm on the day of the crime wanting to open a missing person’s case. He said Mr Packham had been using his cellphone and had appeared “relaxed” and had sounded calm and collected.

He said he had told Mr Packham that because he lived in the Doordrift area of Constantia it would be better for him to go to Diep River police station and open a case there.

Lieutenant Colonel Labuschagne said he had asked Mr Packham if he knew whether his wife was having an affair, if they had had a fight or altercation. Mr Packham had told him that he and Gill had fought the previous night but things had been resolved by the time she had left for work.

Tuesday March 19

Mr Packham’s mistress, who cannot be named to protect her children, told the court she had been having an affair with Mr Packham since October 2015 and that he had sent her a message two days after his wife’s death, saying “This madness will soon be over and we can be together”.

He had also told her he loved his life but not his wife and was not in a position to make a decision.

Wednesday March 20

Prosecutor Susan Galloway asked Detective Sergeant Ivan Sonnenberg, of Diep River police station, why he had arrested Mr Packham on Thursday March 1. He replied that enough evidence had pointed to his arrest.

She asked if evidence had been found that had pointed in other directions to which he said no.

Detective Sergeant Sonnenberg is the lead investigator on the case. He gave evidence of people at the scene identifying Mr Packham’s Audi at the Diep River train station; of CCTV footage from a neighbour and Constantia Watch; and cellphone data records.

Judge Elizabeth Steyn asked if a murder weapon had been found. Detective Sergeant Sonnenberg said a broken axe had been found in between bedding in the Packham’s garage.

“No DNA was found on it, but it’s strange that it was hidden away,” he said.

The case continues.