Blood and a broken axe: What detectives found at Packham's Constantia home

2019-03-20 16:47
Rob Packham in Court. (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

Rob Packham in Court. (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

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Blood droplets matched to Gill Packham and her husband, Rob, who stands accused of murdering her, were found on the premises of their Constantia home, the Western Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.

Investigating officer Sergeant Ivan Sonnenberg said the couple's daughters granted access to the house in Riesling Road after their father's arrest on March 1, 2018.

A police officer visited the home shortly after that to collect samples.

READ: 'He said he loved his life but he didn't love his wife' - Packham's ex-mistress tells court

He said blood was found in the garage, where the couple had parked their BMW and Audi Q5, and on the inside front door handle on the driver's side of Rob's Audi. Both blood specimens belonged to Gill.

Blood found in and around the basin of the en suite bathroom was found to belong to Rob. 

Sonnenberg said the accused never explained the presence of his or his wife's blood in these locations.

He also claimed that police had struggled to obtain the Audi for testing and eventually secured the vehicle through a court order.

When officers visited the garage, they found it packed with items including washing machines and tumble dryers. They also found linen and bedding for Gill's bed and breakfast.

Axe found hidden away

"In between [the linen and bedding] we found a broken axe: the head of the axe and the handle for the axe," he said.

A test revealed no DNA. While police could not confirm whether it was the murder weapon, "we did find it strange that it was hidden away like that".

Rob has pleaded not guilty to the murder of his wife and a charge of obstruction of justice.

Her charred remains were found on February 22 in the boot of her burnt-out car at the Diep River train station after the fire was extinguished.

Sonnenberg was on the scene that evening and found the body, a trail indicating how the fire was started and a burnt-out wallet with coins in it near the boot section on the driver's side.

He called Rob to come to the scene but Rob apparently told him it had been a very long day. 

Sonnenberg said Rob missed an appointment to meet the next morning but they eventually ended up at the police station so he could explain what happened the day his wife went missing.

Rob indicated that he and his wife had breakfast and she left before him, at around 07:00.

Cellphone mapping places Packham at crime scenes

"He was very calm, no stresses. He was just sitting there, telling his story to me. There was no crying or anything," he recalled.

Trying to establish Gill's movements that morning, police obtained CCTV footage from a house in the same road, taken at 07:34 on February 22, 2018. They zoomed in and made stills.

He said the driver of a BMW in the footage appeared to have a baseball cap on, white shirt and black jacket. Only the side of their head could be seen.

"From the zoomed-in photograph, he looks like a white male," the police officer noted.

They used cellphone mapping to establish Rob's whereabouts in relation to his wife.

He said that while Rob claimed he left the house after his wife, cellphone mapping showed him to be at the house until a certain time and then placed him at key locations where the crimes unfolded.

When they obtained Rob's work cellphone the day after his wife was found, they did not yet know he had a "burner phone" which he used for communicating with his mistress at the time.

At first, Rob supplied a pin number for his work iPhone but it didn't work, said Sonnenberg. He said Rob later claimed he forgot his pin. 

No other suspect

To this day, police have not been able to access its contents.

Sonnenberg said it was this totality of evidence that led to Rob's arrest.

Prosecutor Susan Galloway asked whether police had found any evidence that could point them away from Rob Packham as the murder suspect.

"No, My Lady," he responded.

The trial continues.

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Read more on:    rob packham  |  gill packham  |  cape town  |  courts  |  crime

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