Packham hasn't shown that his wife's murder haunts him - judge

2019-06-10 13:58
Arguments for the sentencing of convicted wife killer Rob Packham are heard in the Western Cape High Court. (file)

Arguments for the sentencing of convicted wife killer Rob Packham are heard in the Western Cape High Court. (file) (News24)

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Convicted killer Rob Packham has not opened up about how his wife Gill's murder impacted on him, Western Cape High Court Judge Elize Steyn said during sentencing arguments on Monday.

Advocate Craig Webster, for Packham, had argued that his client's daughter Kerry had asked the court for mercy and had begged that her father be given the chance to be involved in the upbringing of his grandchildren.

"This is the voice of a very significant victim, and weight ought to be given to this request," Webster said.

READ: Rob Packham on day his slain wife went missing: 'I was emotional and scared for her'

He said the evidence showed Packham, 58, was a useful and productive member of society, had no previous convictions, and had proved himself to be a caring father and husband.

Steyn said her impression was that Kerry did not believe her father was guilty of killing his wife in February 2018.

'Spur of the moment'

"How wonderful, caring and supportive of his wife can he have been if he killed her and, for years, deceived her?" the judge asked.

Webster pointed out that his client had not been convicted for his extramarital affair. 

He said the evidence showed that the crimes were not premeditated and had happened "on the spur of the moment", and were "spontaneous".

There were thus substantial and compelling circumstances to impose less than the 15-year jail term for murder.

Webster submitted that Packham should get 12 years.

But the judge said that Packham had not played open cards with the court.

"He hasn't told me that he has any remorse, he hasn't told me that he misses his wife... that he is getting therapy. He hasn't indicated at all that this matter haunts him, that it leaves a gap in his life," she said.

'Author of his own demise'

Packham had also not told her what he thought of his wife, which was something that she would have liked to have heard from him personally, Steyn said.

Three weeks ago, Packham was convicted of his wife's murder and attempting to defeat the administration of justice by setting her car and body alight.

On Monday, State prosecutor Susan Galloway submitted that there were enough aggravating factors to impose a life sentence.

Packham had not taken the court into his confidence about why he had committed the crime, the couple had been married for more than 30 years, he had attacked his petite wife with an object in her own home, and she had been killed by the one person she should have been able to trust.

"He simply removed his wife from his life with direct intent as she, in all probability, no longer fitted with what he wanted," Galloway said.

Having no previous convictions was the only thing in his favour, but did not outweigh the need for deterrence and the interests of society.

"He is the author of his own demise, most callously and selfishly so," she said.

Gill's daughter and sisters had detailed how kind, friendly and thoughtful she was.

Remorse

While Kerry testified that everyone from both sides of the family had sought counselling, Packham had yet to show signs of emotional upheaval in the wake of her death, Galloway continued.

While he had feelings for his ex-girlfriend, his wife had been committed to saving their marriage until the day she died.

Packham was "selfish and manipulative", and he had had adequate time to rethink his actions. His wife found herself in a situation not of her own making.

"I have no doubt that the community as a whole cries out loud for a lengthy and severe sentence, such as in a case like this," Galloway said.

Steyn had asked her for case law relating to the murder of women by intimate partners.

Galloway said it had been difficult to find similar cases where a man had killed his partner "simply because she doesn't fit into his life anymore".

Webster told Steyn that the lack of remorse was not an aggravating factor and there would have to be "severely aggravating factors" to impose more than the minimum sentence.

His client should get 15 years at most, he argued.

Steyn is expected to sentence Packham on Wednesday.

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