Murder left our lives in pieces, Gill Packham's sisters tell judge
Two sisters of Gill Packham, who was murdered last year by her husband, Rob, have written deeply emotional testimonies in aggravation of the former businessman’s sentencing.
Victim impact reports from Helen and Rosalynn Humphrey, submitted to Judge Elizabeth Steyn in the Cape Town High Court on Wednesday, detail the tragic extent to which their lives have been affected by Gill's killing.
“Within hours, the shock and disbelief that Gill was missing turned to dread and acute sadness when we were informed that her car had been found burning and that her body was in the boot,” said Helen.
“It is a day we will never forget, and which has created trauma, division and fear in our family.
“While waiting for confirmation from DNA tests, I had recurring nightmares about the prospect that Gill could still have been alive in that burning vehicle.
“The thought of anyone doing that to my sister was unconscionable, let alone someone close to her.”
Helen, who lives in Missouri in the US, said she wished she could have done more to prevent Gill’s death.
“For the rest of my life, I will live with the thought that maybe I could have done something - maybe I could have pushed harder to get her to talk to us or could have helped her emotionally or financially and by doing so, maybe she would still be alive.
“I will never know the answer to that, but I do know that collectively, we failed her. We failed to help her see that it is ok to walk away from a relationship or marriage that was not good for her; we failed to help her see that there are always options and we failed to help her know that she was loved by so many and we would have done anything to help her.
“I can quantify costs of counselling, travel costs to South Africa, but one cannot quantify the impact that this crime will have on me and my whole family for the rest of our lives.
“My children will never get the opportunity to take part in the biggest family reunion that was planned in over 20 years; they will not get to take part in their cousin’s wedding, they will not get to feel what it means to be part of a big international family.
“We will not get to see Gill celebrating her daughter’s wedding, or see her being a graceful grandmother, or share their birthdays, Christmas or other celebrations.
“All this has been taken not only from me and my family, but also my sisters, their families, and Gill’s daughters. One cannot quantify this in dollars or rands as those events and memories are priceless.”
Rosalynn Humphrey, who lives in France, said her sister’s death “had left a big, empty hole where her sister should be and used to be”.
She wrote: “How can this be true? She can’t be dead, my kind, thoughtful sister no longer with me on this planet earth.
“How she must have suffered through no fault of her own except that she was a woman wanting to be loved and respected.”
Both sisters were present for the first week of the murder trial.
Packham’s married elder daughter, Kerry-Ann Meyer, 28, testified in mitigation of her father’s sentencing on Wednesday and said the relationship between her mother and the sisters, particularly Helen, was “estranged”.
“They hadn’t spoken for around 10 years,” she said.
Defence advocate Craig Webster suggested the fallout between Gill and her sisters had its roots in a property deal.
Gill’s sisters, Helen and Sue Humphrey, have started a Facebook group called Justice for Gill, where many of the reactions to the guilty verdict pronounced on Packham on Monday appeal for harsh sentencing.
Alijda Cook said: “A simple life sentence should not be all he gets. For what he did he should get maximum punishment.
"For now, may he have a miserable life of solitude, not only because he deserves it but because Gillian's life was worth so much more than what he put her through and her loved ones forever. It is a bitter-sweet ending to a sad real-life horror story.”