Let me walk my daughter down the aisle, begs alleged wife killer Rob Packham

19 December 2018 - 17:30 By Philani Nombembe
Rob Packham with his daughter Nicola after his bail hearing in Cape Town on Wednesday December 19 2018. He has asked the court for permission to attend the wedding of another daughter.
Rob Packham with his daughter Nicola after his bail hearing in Cape Town on Wednesday December 19 2018. He has asked the court for permission to attend the wedding of another daughter.
Image: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

Incarcerated businessman Rob Packham will hear on Thursday whether he will walk his daughter down the aisle on Saturday.

The 57-year-old from Constantia appeared in the high court in Cape Town on Wednesday for an inquiry into allegations that he breached his bail conditions for the second time since being charged with his wife’s murder in March.

According to the prosecution, the former manager did so by sending SMSs to a person who is a mutual friend of his and his former mistress. The former mistress, who cannot be named as per court order, is a state witness.

Packham allegedly killed his wife, Gill, put her body in the boot of her car and set it alight at the Diep River railway station in February.

In September, judge Nathan Erasmus released Packham under strict conditions after he was caught on camera delivering flowers at his former mistress’s workplace.

The woman also received e-mails from a person purporting to be Richard J Hopkins, who urged her to mend her relationship with Packham and detailed intimate details of their affair.

The woman complained to the police that he was harassing her and Hopkins was unmasked as Packham.

One of the conditions Erasmus imposed was that Packham should not have access to any devices capable of sending and receiving electronic communication data.

On Wednesday, the prosecution argued that by contacting the mutual friend, Packham indirectly tried to approach his former mistress.

"The gist of the statement is that the accused not only sent [the mutual friend] messages [thus having access to electronic devices capable of sending or receiving electronic communication] but also may have attempted to make contact with the witness via her," said prosecutor Susan Galloway.

Rob Packham in the Cape Town high court on Wednesday, December 19 2018.
Rob Packham in the Cape Town high court on Wednesday, December 19 2018.
Image: Philani Nombembe

On December 5, the former mistress complained she had received a letter from "from what appears to be the same Richard Hopkins who previously sent her electronic messages".

Galloway said Packham resorted to "snail mail" because he was aware e-mails could be traced.

"The wording and manner of speech is similar in nature to the previous electronic messages and letters known to be written by the accused," said Galloway.

"The detail in the letter related to what was discussed during the first application relating to the identity of the writer and the content of the electronic messages. It is submitted that, given the accused’s continued intentional failure to comply with the conditions of bail, his bail be withdrawn and he be kept in custody pending trial."

Packham's lawyer, Ben Mathewson, forced investigating officer Sgt Ivan Sonnenberg to concede a number of discrepancies in his investigation.

Gill Packham, who was murdered in February.
Gill Packham, who was murdered in February.
Image: Pink Ladies

Mathewson questioned the credibility of the mutual friend who alerted the police to the SMSs. He said she was a member of a swingers club in Cape Town where "everybody knows somebody, you don’t know who is sending messages".

Sonnenberg said police did not find the device Packham could have used to send the SMSs, despite thoroughly searching his home.

The detective admitted he did not fingerprint the letter purportedly sent by Packham and did not have the SMSs the accused allegedly sent to the mutual friend.

Mathewson also handed a bunch of letters to Sonnenberg, which he said was hate mail Packham had received since October.

"The authors of the mail depict the accused as the anti-Christ with the number 666 on the forehead," said Mathewson.

He said Packham could not have sent the letter and SMSs, and he was looking forward to his daughter Kerry’s wedding.

In an affidavit, Packham denied breaching his bail conditions. He said he was also aware of scrutiny from his neighbours, who had been misinformed by the media about his bail conditions.

He said police ransacked his home during the search and showed no respect for "Gill’s items which had not been touched since she passed away".

"They even touched her underwear."

Judge Elizabeth Baartman will rule on the matter on Thursday afternoon.

According to the state, Packham was bust by licence-plate recognition cameras that showed him driving Gill’s BMW on the day of her disappearance, while cellphone towers showed he was in Constantia.

Gill’s body was found in the car boot after firefighters extinguished the flames. A post-mortem showed she died from blunt force trauma to the head.

The alarm was raised when she did not arrive for work at the Springfield Convent, a high school in Wynberg, where she was a secretary.