Rob Packham to learn his fate as judge delivers verdict in murder trial
After spending two months on trial for allegedly killing his wife, Rob Packham will learn his fate on Monday at the Cape Town high court.
Packham’s legal proceedings have been tumultuous since his initial arrest in March 2018, the month after his wife Gill’s body was found in the boot of her burnt-out car at Diep River railway station.
The Constantia businessman, who pleaded not guilty to murder and defeating the ends of justice, was arrested again in September for breaching his bail conditions and intimidating witnesses.
He had delivered a bouquet to his former mistress’s workplace and e-mailed her using a false identity, even after being ordered to stop contacting state witnesses.
“Are you upset that he [Packham] sent you a little flower yesterday?” the e-mail read. “He is trying against your hostile attitude‚ he wants to keep the door open.”
Packham’s bail was revoked in December after he was arrested a third time. This followed another breach of bail conditions when he contacted a mutual friend of his and his ex-mistress.
Even though he was prohibited from accessing communication devices, he told the friend in an e-mail: “I am deprived. I crave intimacy, raw primal sex… Keen? Relax, this is not about [the mistress].”
His trial began this March, with the state painting Packham’s infidelity as the catalyst for the crime. Packham suggested the possibility of a random hijacking and killing.
Giving evidence in his defence, the businessman said he had not seen Gill after she left for work on February 22 2018.
He claimed he went to car dealerships that morning to find his wife’s birthday gift, asking a colleague to tell Gill or anyone else looking for him that he was in a meeting.
The state said this was part of the alibi Packham concocted after murdering Gill with blows to the head in their garage.
A witness testified to seeing Packham driving Gill’s car in the afternoon of her death in nearby Bergvliet, with CCTV footage placing the green BMW in the same place. Packham said he was looking for Gill in his own white Audi at the time.
Two other witnesses allegedly saw him speeding away from Diep River railway station later that night in a vehicle matching the description of Packham’s. One witness recalled half of the car’s registration plate, which also lined up with the Audi.
Packham said he was with his sister in Tokai at that time, and it was a coincidence that the witnesses saw a car similar to his in Diep River.
Though Packham and his wife were undergoing marriage counselling, he continued to contact his mistress, even on the morning of Gill’s death.
“He led a double life,” said Judge Elizabeth Steyn before she adjourned the case to consider her verdict. “I think he’s able to deceive everyone [with his affair], so how should I think of his ability to deceive [in court]?”