Packham murder trial: Couple was planning to renew their vows, court hears

2019-03-11 18:10
Rob Packham. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Rob Packham. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Murder accused Rob Packham and his slain wife Gill had spoken about renewing their vows not long before her murder, the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.

The couple's daughter, Nicola, testified on behalf of the State and told the court that her parents received marriage counselling and individual therapy sessions after her father confessed to his wife that he had been having an affair.

Nicola told Judge Elize Steyn she had known about her father's infidelity for several years and felt it was "time for mum to know".

On Monday, Packham pleaded not guilty to the murder of his wife and a charge of obstruction of justice.

He was arrested in 2018, the same day his wife's body was identified by means of forensic DNA comparison.

Her charred remains were found in the boot of her burnt-out car at the Diep River train station after the fire was extinguished on February 22, 2018.

A relative had reported her missing that Thursday afternoon. The last that she had been seen was when she left her home that morning in her green BMW sedan, police said at the time.

She worked as an administrator at Springfield Convent School in Wynberg.

Crying, distressed

Packham worked as a general manager at the Cape-based plant of cooldrink manufacturer Twizza when he was arrested at his Constantia home, believed to have been the murder scene.

Nicola had moved out of the house 10 days before her mother's disappearance and murder.

When she left, her parents had been spending time together and planning dates, Nicola testified.

"It seemed they were starting a new relationship."

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They had, however, been separated for a short period, she said, and reunited on February 10, less than two weeks before the murder.

On the day of her mother's disappearance, Nicola – who was in Johannesburg – initially could not reach her father when she was informed by her mother's colleague that Gill had not yet reported for work.

He later told her that he had been at the production line at the Twizza plant, she testified.

Rob had given his daughter "regular updates" as he searched for her mother that day, Nicola said.

When her father drove around looking for her mother, he was crying on the phone and was distressed, she recalled. Later he was panicky and stressed "because he didn't know where else to look".


Earlier Bernice Moore, a secretary at Springfield Convent School, testified that when her colleague had not pitched for work at 08:15 that day and was not answering calls and messages, she became worried and informed management.

A staff member went to Packham's home, about 4km from the school, but found everything locked and the alarm light activated.

She phoned the accused because he was Gill's emergency contact, Moore said.

Numerous calls went unanswered, either ringing or going straight to voicemail. She recalled phoning his office at 09:10, but was told Packham was not yet in.

ALSO READ: Court orders Constantia man accused of wife's murder to hand over his Audi to investigators

She called Nicola, who was in Johannesburg, who said she would try to reach them.

When she eventually reached him, he said he was on the school premises and was coming to her office as he "wanted to know who he was talking to", Moore said. She found this strange.

The accused's eyes were "big in his head", she testified - not necessarily worried, but "frazzled".

Moore said Packham did not want school management to help find his wife, recalling that he said: "No, don't bother them, I'm okay."

"And then he left," Moore said.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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